Vice President Mike Pence said that the United States’ response to any use of weapons by North Korea will be "overwhelming and effective," in a new warning to the reclusive state Wednesday.
Pence was speaking to hundreds of U.S. and Japanese sailors from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in the Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay, Japan.
"North Korea is the most dangerous and urgent threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific," he said. “The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.”
“Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response,” Pence said.
On Tuesday, Pence reassured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the U.S. stands “100 percent” behind Japan in working to reign in North Korea’s nuclear program, after arriving in Japan from South Korea.
He said that while "all options are on the table,” Trump was determined to work with Japan, South Korea and other allies in Asia to resolve the problem.
Also Tuesday, it emerged that a U.S. strike group was not near the Korean Peninsula as had been previously thought, after President Trump said last week he had sent an "armada" as a warning to Pyongyang. The USS Carl Vinson and strike force warships were in fact headed to the Indian Ocean for joint exercises with the Australian Navy, more than 3,000 miles from Korean Peninsula.
The White House said it based its statements on guidance from the Defense Department.
The State Department said Monday that China sent the Trump administration "positive signals" that it will increase economic sanctions to pressure its ally North Korea to abandon its development of missiles and nuclear weapons.
Pence is on a 10-day Asia trip that will see him also visit Indonesia and Australia.
Contributing: David Jackson, The Associated Press