President Trump has a simple message for the complex North Korea conundrum: “Gotta behave.”
Trump gave his two-word prescription Monday morning when asked by a reporter at the White House Easter Egg Roll. The president has been tweeting warnings at North Korea for weeks as the dictatorship ramps up provocative missile tests.
Vice President Pence, speaking near the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Monday, delivered a similar steely statement, saying the “era of strategic patience is over.” Pence, expressing impatience with the speed and willingness of the regime to end its nuclear weapons program, said Trump was hopeful that China would use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its weapons.
“President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change,” Pence said. “We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”
Later Monday, Pence reiterated that “all options were on the table” to deal with the threat posed by Pyongyang. He said any use of nuclear weapons would be met with “an overwhelming and effective response.” Speaking alongside South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, Pence said the American commitment to South Korea is “iron-clad and immutable.”
A day earlier, deputy national security adviser K.T. MacFarland told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that North Korea was a problem for everybody in the region, including China — the North’s strongest ally.
“North Korea is a liability to everybody and it’s a threat not just to the United States, not just to South Korea, not just to Japan, not just to Russia, but it’s actually a threat to China as well.”
H.R. McMaster, Trump’s top national security adviser, told ABC’s “This Week” the U.S. would rely on its allies as well as Chinese leadership to solve the issues with North Korea.
McMaster cited Trump’s recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government as a sign that the president “is clearly comfortable making tough decisions.” But at the same time, McMaster said, “it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”
A North Korean missile exploded during launch on Sunday, U.S. and South Korean officials said. The high-profile failure came as the North tried to showcase its nuclear and missile capabilities around the birth anniversary of the North’s late founder and as a U.S. aircraft carrier neared the Korean Peninsula.