Pence, in South Korea, Calls North Korea Missile Launch 'a Provocation' – New York Times
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday described North Korea’s failed missile test as “a provocation” that highlighted the risks plaguing both the region and the United States, as the White House said President Trump had an array of military, diplomatic and other options to respond.
“This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face each and every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world,” Mr. Pence said at an Easter dinner at Yongsan military base in Seoul, South Korea, where he was beginning a 10-day tour of Asia.
Mr. Pence said he had spoken with Mr. Trump, who had asked him to convey to the troops stationed in South Korea that “we’re proud of you and we’re grateful for your service.”
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Earlier, on board Air Force Two as Mr. Pence made his way to South Korea, a White House foreign policy adviser said the United States had had good intelligence about the launch both in advance and afterward, an intriguing statement that suggested the United States had the information it would have needed to take covert action against the latest launch, even as it left open the question of whether such interference occurred.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity on a sensitive national security matter, said Mr. Trump had many military, diplomatic and other tools at his disposal should he choose to respond. But he suggested a response to another in a series of failed launches might not be imminent.
“We’ve got a range of options — both militarily, diplomatic and others — so we have a wide array of tools at disposal for the president should he choose to use them,” the official said. “But for this particular case, if they took the time and energy to launch a missile that failed, we don’t need to expend any resources against that.”
United States intelligence indicates that the missile was not an intercontinental ballistic missile but probably a medium-range one, which was launched from the same navy base as an April 5 attempt, and which failed after four to five seconds, the official added.
United States officials were anticipating action, the official said, although they had been uncertain of the precise timing.
“We weren’t surprised by it, we were anticipating it. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. The good news is that after five seconds it fizzled out.”
Mr. Trump, who is spending the Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate here in Florida, had no direct response to the launch, but on Sunday, he suggested that China was helping the United States formulate a response to the North Korean menace, and that he was refraining from naming Beijing a currency manipulator in part because of that cooperation.
Mr. Pence is scheduled to meet with Hwang Kyo-ahn, the acting president of South Korea, on Monday to discuss the North Korean threat.
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