PANMUNJOM, South Korea (CBS NEWS) -- Vice President Mike Pence declared Monday the “era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea, expressing impatience with the unwillingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Pence told reporters near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea that President Trump is hopeful that China will use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon its weapons.
Pence, who has called the North’s failed missile test a day earlier “a provocation,” said the U.S. and its allies will achieve its objectives through “peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary” to protect South Korea and stabilize the region.
Later, at a joint news conference in Seoul with acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn, Pence reiterated that the U.S. commitment to South Korea is “iron-clad and immutable.”
During his visit to a military base near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, Pence was briefed by military leaders and met with American troops stationed there. The joint U.S.-South Korean military camp is just outside the DMZ. He later stood a few meters from the military demarcation line outside Freedom House, gazing at two North Korean soldiers across the border and then a deforested stretch of North Korea from a lookout post in the hillside.
The DMZ, notes the Reuters news agency, is “a heavily mined, 2.5-mile-wide strip of land lined with barbed wire running across the Korean peninsula, with soldiers on both sides in a continual eyeball-to-eyeball standoff.”
His visit, full of Cold War symbolism, and his remarks to reporters come amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula.
As CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz reports, Kim Jong Un looked on for hours as weapon after weapon rolled by in a weekend parade honoring his grandfather Kim Il Sung. But when it came time to test one of those medium-range ballistic missiles on Sunday, it failed in spectacular fashion; exploding about five seconds after lift-off.