Trump's Secret Weapon in North Korea Standoff: Unpredictability

"We will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response", the Vice President said, to applause from the hundreds of United States and Japanese troops gathered on the deck.

Pence also said that the United States would work with its allies and China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on the North and increase its military presence in the region.

While Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denounced North Korea's weapons test as he began a Mideast tour, Vice President Mike Pence offered support to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo amid a trip dominated by concerns about the rogue state's nuclear intentions.

Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence matter, said the missile was a Scud variant that the US calls a KN-17.

"The only thing we need to hear from North Korea is that they are ending and ultimately dismantling their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program", Pence said aboard the USS Ronald Reagan at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

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Pence opened the discussion of North Korea by saying the USA seeks peace but that "peace comes through strength".

Yet Abe and Pence affirming the foundation for a peaceful solution represents a shift in tone for the US following the nation's recent airstrike on Syria, use of a massive ordnance air blast bomb in Afghanistan and orders to send the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula.

"We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan", Pence said after arriving from Seoul for talks with Abe.

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

The North held a show of military might in a parade over the weekend and tested another missile on Sunday, which the Pentagon said blew up nearly immediately after launch.

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Mr Pence's comments come after a senior North Korean official warned that the regime had no intention of dialling down its missile programme, pledging weekly tests and threatening "all-out war" if the United States took any action against it.

North Korea is seen as toning down its condemnation as its foreign ministry has yet to release its stance on Pence's warning, analysts said.

He expressed deeply negative views of past negotiations with Pyongyang.

The rhetoric from both Washington and Pyongyang has ratcheted up considerably over the past week, amid repeated declarations from senior USA figures that "the era of strategic patience is over" regarding the North's nuclear ambitions, fuelling speculation that the new administration could be considering a pre-emptive military strike on North Korean military sites.

Determined to signal a hard line on North Korea's nuclear and missiles programs, the US has issued its own warnings, both directly and indirectly.

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