Published: Mon, April 17, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Pence to open Asian trip amid tensions with North Korea

The launch comes one day after North Korea revealed several new weapons systems, including what appear to be new intercontinental ballistic missile models (ICBM), during a military parade in Pyongyang. Although Indonesia is not on the list of predominately Muslim countries included in Trump's travel ban, Indonesian leaders have expressed displeasure with the ban, which has been blocked by US courts.

The Trump administration has said that the keeping a military option in the region on the table, but is leaning toward a diplomatic and economic solution to the rising tensions with North Korea.

A North Korean missile "blew up nearly immediately" on its test launch on Sunday, the U.S. Pacific Command said, hours before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was due in South Korea for talks on the North's increasingly defiant arms programme. There will be no progress as long as China, which has supported North Korea, merely calls for Pyongyang and Washington to avoid a collision.

According to the adviser, the USA had good intelligence both before and after the launch.

President Donald Trump's vice president arrived in the region a day after North Korea celebrated the birth anniversary of the country's late founder with a military parade showing off missiles and military hardware.

The extended-range Scud missile in that earlier launch suffered an in-flight failure and fell into the sea off North Korea's east coast, according to US imagery and assessments.

Pence is joined by his wife and two adult daughters and will lay a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery and join USA and South Korean troops for Easter Sunday church services and a dinner.

Along with the deployment of the Naval aircraft carrier and other vessels into waters off the Korean Peninsula, thousands of USA and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were also deployed last month in their biggest-ever joint military exercises.

Asked about North Korea this past week, he told reporters: "North Korea is a problem". Trump's national security adviser 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".

"We will respond with an all-out war to (the USA attempt) for a full-scale war and nuclear attacks with nuclear strikes", Choe said in a speech quoted by the South Korean Yonhap news agency on Saturday.

Japan's National Security Council discussed how to evacuate its almost 60,000 citizens from South Korea in the event of a crisis, a government official said on Friday (April 14), amid rising concern over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Details are still scant on what sort of missile this latest test launch was. While the north's continued development of nuclear warheads has been a top issue of concern, Abe stressed that the country already had the ability to fire a sarin-tipped missile at Japan. He has repeatedly declared that if China, North Korea's dominant trading partner, isn't willing to do more to squeeze the North, the US might take the matter into its own hands. South Korea's Defense Ministry said it was analyzing exactly how the North Korean launch failed.

Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.

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