Eric Ortiz
Managing Editor
Eric Ortiz is the managing editor of Truthdig. A journalist and innovator with two decades in digital media, Ortiz founded the mobile app startup Evrybit, a live storytelling and reporting tool, as a 2014 John…
Eric Ortiz

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol. (BBC)

North Korea has a message for Donald Trump.

"If the United States encroaches on our sovereignty, then it will provoke our immediate counter-reaction," Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol told the BBC's John Sudworth on Monday. "If the U.S. is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method."

Han added that North Korea will continue to test missiles "on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis."

Vice President Mike Pence, who is on a four-nation tour in Asia this week, also offered a warning, citing recent U.S. military actions in Syria and Afghanistan, CNBC reports.

"Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan," Pence said Monday in an appearance with South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. "North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region."

On Wednesday, aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan in Japan, Pence reiterated the warning while speaking to U.S. service members and Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The United States of America will always seek peace, but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready," Pence told 2,500 sailors at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay. "Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response."

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have increased in April. Two weeks ago, the Trump administration said it was sending the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula. But on Tuesday, the White House said the aircraft carrier was in the Indian Ocean, near Indonesia, 3,500 miles away from North Korea.

According to The New York Times, South Korea felt cheated after the U.S. carrier miscue. Pence said that the misstatement about the ship's location was unintentional, and Pentagon officials now say the aircraft carrier will head to the region soon.

From the Times:

The Carl Vinson is now actually headed to the Korean Peninsula and is expected to arrive in the region next week, Pentagon officials say. April 25 is another major anniversary in North Korea, the birthday of the Korean People’s Army, and some analysts say the North might try to celebrate with a major provocation.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Rear Adm. James W. Kilby, commander of the Carl Vinson carrier strike group, said its deployment “has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Despite the military movement, the U.S. has no plans to negotiate directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at this time.

"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 told CNN.

—Posted by Eric Ortiz

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