Pence to North Korea: 'The sword stands ready'


U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is wrapping up his visit to Japan with a stop at a youth baseball and softball event outside Tokyo.

Pence arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday from South Korea and reassured Japan of USA commitment to reining in North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions in a series of meetings with Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The concerns were exacerbated after a North Korean missile exploded during launch on Sunday, U.S. and South Korean officials said. "And the question is, can we bring them to a point where they'll use it?" said Fran Townsend, CBS News senior national security analyst and former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence talks with members of the American Chamber of Commerce at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Donald Trump said North Korea has "gotta behave" as tensions between the two countries have become increasingly strained.

USA military officials indicated earlier this month that the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its support group would sail toward the Korean Peninsula in response to rising tensions and reports of a looming North Korea missile test.

The term "reckless" is one the North Koreans have used to describe continuing large-scale US and South Korean military exercises, which the North calls a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

The Pacific Command statement said the Carl Vinson canceled a scheduled visit to Australia after leaving Singapore on April 8, but completed a shortened training exercise off northwestern Australia before heading north.

The song extolling missile launches carried out by the Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force under the Korean People's Army (KPA) was released.

North Korea has unveiled footage of a simulated missile attack on the United States at the latest performance to mark the birthday of late state founder Kim Il-sung, Pyongyang's media reported Wednesday.

The vice president's comments come after he spoke to USA and Japanese troops on board the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier earlier in the day.

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In a veiled warning to China, Pence added that "our treaty (with Japan) covers all the territory administered by Japan, including the Senkaku Islands" - a disputed and uninhabited archipelago in the East China Sea that is controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing. As the brown bomber jacket-clad vice president was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched from a short distance away, one taking multiple photographs of the American visitor.

Trump campaigned for office on an "America First" platform, saying he would boost USA manufacturing jobs and shrink the country's trade deficit with countries like Japan.

A ship bell signaled his arrival Wednesday morning on the USS Ronald Reagan at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo.

Speaking aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz class aircraft carrier now undergoing scheduled maintenance at its home port of Yokosuka, Pence said U.S. intentions remained unwavering in the face of the threat posed by the reclusive North, which has conducted a series of missile and nuclear tests in defiance of United Nations sanctions, most recently with a failed missile launch on Sunday.

The vice president is on a 10-day tour of Asia.

Trump also abandoned the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) backed by predecessor Barack Obama and Abe, and vowed to revisit regional trade deals to focus on two-way agreements.

North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs have raised tensions between Pyongyang and Washington and increased talk of war.

Townsend said it's important to remember China's strategic interests.

USA defence secretary Jim Mattis warned that North Korea's latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that America was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.