From Carrier Flight Deck, Pence Warns N. Korea: "The Sword Stands Ready"

by PATRICK GOODENOUGH April 19, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence sent another clear warning to North Korea on Wednesday, telling personnel aboard a Japan-based U.S. aircraft carrier that "all options are on the table" when dealing with the Stalinist regime.

Pence said the U.S. would work with allies and others in the region to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime in Pyongyang until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"But as all of you know," he continued, "readiness is the key, and you - the instruments of American policy - should know, all options are on the table."

"History will attest the soldier does not bear the sword in vain," Pence said.

"Those who would challenge our resolve or our readiness should know: We will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response."

"The United States of America will always seek peace," he added. "But under President Trump, the shield stands guard, and the sword stands ready."

Pence was addressing U.S. military personnel and guests including Japanese sailors on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is forward-deployed with the U.S. Seventh Fleet at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka, 40 miles south of Tokyo.

He said the North Korean regime had for more than a generation sought to develop nuclear weapons and the missiles with which to fire them, impoverishing its people and embittering the region in the process.

Through three American administrations, the U.S. and its allies had worked tirelessly to peacefully dismantle the nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people.

But time and again, the regime had answered the overtures with "willful deception, with broken promises, and nuclear and missile tests," he said.

"As President Trump has made clear to the world, the era of strategic patience is over."

Pence's broader message was directed not just at North Korea, but at any other "enemies of our freedom."

He said Trump's "strength and resolve" had been evident for the world to see in recent weeks, citing the cruise missile strike on a Syrian regime airbase and the dropping of a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb on an ISIS location in Afghanistan.

"The enemies of our freedom and this alliance would do well not to test the resolve of this president or the capabilities of the armed forces of the United States of America and our allies," he said to cheers and applause from the assembled personnel.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Pence also emphasized that the U.S. would uphold freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea - where China's actions in support of its disputed territorial claims have sparked tensions in recent years.

The vice president also said the U.S. would promote peaceful dialogue and defend human rights, "because the dignity and worth of every person is an eternal value of the United States."

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Patrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by's roster of international stringers.

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