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VP Pence: US won't tolerate further North Korea weapons tests

21 April 2017

North Korea will continue to test missiles, a senior official has told the BBC in Pyongyang, despite worldwide condemnation and growing military tensions with the US.

Speaking in Pyongyang, he said: "We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis".

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who met with Japan's trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, earlier Tuesday, said he hopes to soon begin talks on a free trade agreement with Japan.

Kim spoke on a day that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over".

Wrapping up the lecture attended by some 70 South Korean and U.S. business leaders, Pence left through Osan Air Base for Tokyo, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and discussed North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

US Vice-President Mike Pence was in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday where he warned the North not to test Trump's resolve, adding "all options are on the table".

The revelations come after United States vice president Mike Pence warned "the era of strategic patience is over".

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Security forces violently dispersed demonstrations in the months that followed, killing hundreds of protesters. Soon after the announcement, sirens wailed in parts of southern Israel alerting residents to a rocket attack.

"While all options are on the table", Pence said, "President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region, and with China" to resolve the problem.

The U.S. dropped a 21,600-pound bomb on ISIS in eastern Afghanistan last week, and earlier in the month fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian government airbase in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack against civilians.

On Thursday, the U.S. military said it had dropped the largest non-nuclear device it had unleashed in combat on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in Afghanistan.

Sure, North Korea might interpret such overtures as some sort of victory over its archenemy, but so what if they initiate the winding down of its nuclear program? -South Korean military exercises and a freeze on DPRK missile and nuclear tests.

How advanced is North Korea's nuclear programme?

Vice-president Mike Pence, meanwhile, said the "era of strategic patience is over" during a visit to Seoul and he told South Korea the United States is with the nation 100%.

Although North and South Korea are not in a state of open conflict, the Korean War never ended.

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Rights group Penal Forum said more than 500 people were arrested in relation to Wednesday's protest and 334 remained in detention. We want elections to get Maduro out, because he's destroyed this country", said protester Ingrid Chacon, a 54-year-old secretary.

"We had made a pretty big point of making it clear that we weren't willing to sacrifice our domestic economic interests for the sake of some foreign policy issue", said Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative under Obama.

The U.S. technically remains at war with North Korea, since a peace treaty was never signed after the end of the Korean War in 1953.

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, took a moment at the annual White House Easter egg roll to deliver a terse message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un: "Got to behave".

Hwang hailed the early deployment of the controversial U.S. missile defence system (known as Thaad) created to protect against threats from North Korea.

Pence's Asia tour came amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula. "But at every step of the way, North Korea answered our overtures with willful deception, broken promises and nuclear and missile tests".

On Sunday, Lt Gen HR McMaster, the United States top security adviser, said his country was working on a "range of options" with China, the first confirmation the two countries were co-operating to find a solution to the North Korean issue.

But Acting President Hwang Kyo Ahn held a joint press conference with Mr Pence and talked tough, promising "punitive acts" if any further "provocations" (such as missile tests) came from the North and emphasising the swift deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defence system.

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Trump acknowledged on Sunday that the softer line he had taken on China's management of its currency was linked to its help on North Korea.