NEWS reports, "North Korea appears "primed and ready" to carry out another nuclear test defying President Donald Trump's warning that American could use military force to stop the pariah nation's atomic ambitions".
The 10-day Asia visit, which will also take him to Tokyo, Jakarta and Sydney, comes as North Korea ramps up rhetoric and is feared to be gearing up for another missile test. A US aircraft carrier has been dispatched to waters off the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.
Ahead of Pence's arrival, North Korea's vice foreign minister told The Associated Press in an interview that Trump was the culprit of escalating tensions through his tweets and expansion of military exercises, arguing that the United States was becoming "more vicious and more aggressive" under Trump compared to his predecessor. In its statement released Thursday, it warned: "By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula, the U.S.is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war". On Thursday, it released a statement that promised a "merciless retaliatory strike" for any USA attack.
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"Remember, President Donald Trump said, "...the problem will be taken care of". Its threat carries added weight because of Saturday's "Day of the Sun" celebration, which commemorates its late founder Kim Il-Sung's 105th birthday. This matters because while North Korea regularly launches short-range missiles, it is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland. China, the North's biggest trading partner and the crutch that keeps its economy afloat, has so far shown little appetite for pulling the plug on North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pointed to nuclear weapons as the foundation of his national defense strategy and has openly sought a nuclear weapon that could strike the continental U.S. Analysts have said commercial satellite images from recent weeks indicate increased activity around the nuclear test site in northern North Korea.
Washington and Seoul will try hard to figure out what exactly North Korea fired.