Amid North Korea crisis, Pence becomes Trump emissary abroad

Cheryl Sanders
April 24, 2017

Fresh off an enormous North Korean parade that revealed an arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles, rival South Korea and its allies are bracing for the possibility that Pyongyang's follow-up act will be even bigger.

Australia opposition says the threat is of "enormous concern".

The latest sign comes from the Global Times, a Chinese government mouthpiece, about Beijing having no obligation to help its ally if the US makes a surgical strike to take out the North's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

The Foreign Ministry spokesman accused Trump administration officials of "spouting a load of rubbish" and "seeking to bring nuclear aircraft carrier strike groups one after another to the waters off the Korean Peninsula", an apparent reference to the impending arrival of the USS Carl Vinson carrier group to the region. The embassy looks after consular affairs for the United States in North Korea because the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.

North Korea has warned Australia of a possible nuclear strike if Canberra persists in "blindly and zealously toeing the U.S. line".

The statement came just hours after a North Korean newspaper said Pyongyang was ready to take out a United States aircraft carrier conducting drills with Japanese destroyers near the Philippines.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is foolish if he believes the brinkmanship his father used to get his way with the global community over the last two decades would still work.

The tit-for-tat came as US Vice-President Mike Pence again attacked North Korea's weapons program while in Australia.

"The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the USA", the statement added.

Mr Pence told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull following a meeting how they were "truly grateful" to Australia for calling on China to do more to quell the threat of North Korea. "North Korea's unlawful weapons programs represent a clear, grave threat to U.S. national security".

Pyongyang has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks, threatening to hit back against any provocation. Chinese media have speculated the Chinese government is also considering cutting oil supplies.

US President Donald Trump has urged China to take stronger steps to press the North to curb its nuclear and missile programmes.

But he did not believe conflict on the Korean peninsula was particularly likely and backed the approach the USA has taken on North Korea.

Other reports by iNewsToday