Vice President Mike Pence doubled down on the fierce rhetoric aimed at North Korea Wednesday, vowing in a speech onboard a USA aircraft carrier in Japanese waters that the US would meet any aggression from Pyongyang with an "overwhelming and effective" response.
North Korea is the most unsafe and urgent threat to the peace and security of the Asian Pacific.
Trump's administration has appeared to guide US policy toward a more hawkish stance against North Korea since it assumed office in January, at least partly in response to the socialist regime's continued military tests.
U.S. and Japanese troops wait for the arrival of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the flight deck of U.S. navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
"We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, and economic measures and all options are on the table", Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross said. "History will attest the soldier does not bear the sword in vain", he said.
But if attacked or faced with the use of nuclear weapons, Pence said, the United States will meet the challenge with "an overwhelming and effective American response".
After a few days of saber-rattling, US President Donald Trump's administration has reverted to the same North Korea policy as its predecessor: relying on China to control Pyongyang. "Rest assured our tax reform plan will make the strongest economy in the world stronger still and it will benefit every business represented here today".
The unannounced visit at the start of Pence's 10-day trip to Asia was a US show of force that allowed him to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire.
North Korean missile test fails, US and South Korea say
The administration's immediate emphasis, the officials said, will be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing. Pence, addressing an Easter service with American troops in South Korea, said the USA commitment to South Korea was unwavering.
During his appearance in South Korea, Pence also said previous administrations have practiced "strategic patience" in the region and vowed that the "era of strategic patience is over".
Pence said he had spoken with Trump and by 2020 some 60 percent of the US naval fleet would be in the region and Japan's role will grow.
He expressed deeply negative views of past negotiations with Pyongyang.
Tensions between Pyongyang and the Western world have steadily increased in recent years, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly ordered ballistic missile tests - acts that many USA officials view as provocative events.
Pence's visit to Japan comes amid the aggravation of the situation on the Korean peninsula with the South Korea and USA military reporting April 16 that they had witnessed what they believe to be a failed missile test by Pyongyang which followed a number of missile launches and nuclear tests by Pyongyang considered to be in violation with the UN Security Council resolution.
Pence repeated the phrase in South Korea, the first stop on his tour, and again during his speech aboard the Ronald Reagan.
China is showing signs of cooperation toward a firmer stance against North Korea, such as by halting regular flights between the two countries' capitals.