The US is considering “all options” against North Korea, the Trump administration has said, escalating tensions with Pyongyang over the country’s nuclear weapons program and missile tests, and reviving one of the world’s longest unresolved conflicts.
On Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced visit to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) along the border between South and North Korea, and declared the “end of strategic patience” toward the North. President Donald Trump was blunter, saying that North Korea “gotta behave.” The saber-rattling comes after the latest North Korean missile test, which failed Sunday.
READ MORE: ‘Era of strategic patience’ by US towards N. Korea is over – Pence
Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910, then occupied by US and Soviet troops in 1945. The Republic of Korea was established in May 1948 in the US-occupied southern portion of the peninsula. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was set up in the north four months later, under the Communist leader Kim Il-Sung. DPRK forces invaded the South in June 1950, seeking to reunify the country by force. When US-led UN troops intervened and advanced into North Korea, China got involved as well. The resulting stalemate was frozen by a 1953 armistice.
Obama: ‘We could destroy you’
Trump and Pence’s statements are a shift from the policy embraced by Barack Obama, whose policy in the Korean peninsula was to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in the South as a counter to “relatively low level threats” from North Korean rockets.
“We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals,” Obama told CBS News in April 2016. “But aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally, Republic of Korea.”
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