North Korea warned not to "test the resolve" of Donald Trump

Russia’s foreign minister has warned the US not to take unsanctioned military action against North Korea

North Korea warned not to "test the resolve" of Donald Trump

US Vice President Mike Pence stands at the Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, 17-04-2017. Image: Young Ho/SIPA USA/PA Images

Russia’s foreign minister has warned the United States not to take unsanctioned military action against North Korea.

Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow condemned North Korea’s “reckless nuclear actions” but insisted that the US should not break international law in response.

In a televised appearance this morning, Mr Lavrov said Russia aimed to restore international relations with Washington – adding that President Trump had previously indicated he was willing to do the same.

"We will be guided by what President Donald Trump once again confirmed,” he said. “The president confirmed that he wants to improve relations with the Russian Federation. We are also ready for that."

All options on the table

It comes as the vice-president of the US, Mike Pence warned North Korea not to “test the resolve” of President Trump.

Mr Pence is on the first stop of a four-nation Asia tour to show support for America’s allies in the increasingly volatile region.

After a visit to the Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea, Mr Pence said that "all options are on the table" to deal with the threat posed by Pyongyang - adding that any use of nuclear weapons by the reclusive regime would met with an "overwhelming and effective response."

“The alliance between South Korea and the United States is the lynchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and indeed throughout the Asian Pacific,” he said.

“The United States commitment to South Korea is iron clad.”

Speaking alongside South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, Mr Pence said: "Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.

"North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region."

The two leaders also confirmed plans to move forward with the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile-defence system in the region in response to the North Korean threat.

The move to deploy the system has met with opposition from China.

Both Seoul and Washington have insisted that the system’s sole purpose is to guard against North Korean missiles – however China said the system’s powerful radar capabilities can penetrate its territory and undermine its security - and spoke out against the move again on Monday.

Demilitarised zone

The visit to the Demilitarised Zone allowed the vice president - whose father fought in the Korean War - to look at North Korean soldiers from afar and gaze directly across a border marked by razor wire.

The two countries technically remain at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

Two North Korean soldiers look on while US Vice President Mike Pence visited the border village of Panmunjom which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, South Korea, 17-04-2017.  Image: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

As Mr Pence was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched on, with one taking photographs of the vice president.

He told reporters that President Trump was hopeful China would use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programme, a day after North Korea attempted another missile launch.

He said the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea’s attempts to build nuclear weapons has now come to an end.

"President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change.

"We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable."

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday that China was working with the US on "the North Korea problem."

US officials said the Trump administration has settled on a policy dubbed "maximum pressure and engagement" after a two-month policy review.

The Trump administration is focusing its strategy on tougher economic sanctions, possibly including an oil embargo, a global ban on its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, indicated on Sunday that Trump was not considering military action against North Korea for now, even as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier strike group was heading for the region.

Additional reporting from IRN ...