Speaking from Freedom House within the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Vice President Mike Pence delivered strong words to American and Republic of Korea (ROK) military troops, reassuring South Korea of U.S. commitment to denuclearization and warning North Korea that every option is on the table.
“The patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out, and we want to see change,” Pence warned.
Pence made clear that the U.S. wants to see the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, abandon “its nuclear program and its ballistic missile program” and that the U.S. hopes to see China take actions necessary to achieve this change.
The Vice President recalled more than a quarter-century ago, when the U.S. became aware North Korea’s attempts at developing a nuclear weapon:
We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons. And also its continual use of and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable. That clarity we hope will be received in North Korea, and that they will understand that the United States of America, the people of South Korea, our allies across the region are resolved to achieve our objectives through peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary to protect the interest, the security of the people of South Korea and to bring stability to the region.
He went on to tell the group:
We are heartened by the support of allies across the Asia Pacific, including China, who will continue to advance this objective on the Korean Peninsula. And I’m here to express the resolve of the people of the United States and the President of the United States to achieve that objective through peaceable means, through negotiations, but all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of South Korea for the denuclearization of this peninsula and for the long-term prosperity and freedom of the people of South Korea.
Pence again recalled his father’s military service in the Korean War. “People across the world should know that the bonds between our people are not simply strategic and military and economic, but they are personal, and they span generations of Americans and South Koreans,” he said.
Asked about what role China could have in denuclearizing North Korea, Pence stated that he and the President are “heartened by some initial steps that China has taken in this regard, but we look for them to do more.”
The Vice President said that he and the President hope to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula “through peaceable means” with the cooperation of China, South Korea, Japan, and other allies in the region.
“All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the security of the people of this country and the stability of this region,” said the Vice President, who was clear that the Administration stands by its policy of not talking about military tactical decisions. He also reaffirmed that the U.S. stands with the people of South Korea.
Asked what message he had for the “people on the other side of this line,” Pence responded, “We seek peace, but America has always sought peace through strength. And my message here today standing with U.S. Forces Korea, standing with courageous soldiers from the Republic of Korea, is a message of resolve.”
“The alliance between South Korea and the United States is ironclad. We will fulfill that alliance for the sake of our people and the people of South Korea,” Pence continued. He went on to say, “As the President has made very clear, either China will deal with this problem or the United States and our allies will.”
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