Pence vows to defend U.S. from N. Korea with whatever 'action is necessary'

Pence vows to defend U.S. from N. Korea with whatever 'action is necessary'

- in US

Vice President Mike Pence, in an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Nightly News,” vowed that the U.S. would protect itself from North Korean nuclear threats by taking whatever “action is necessary to defend our homeland.”

Speaking with NBC’s Lester Holt on the sidelines of the 23rd Olympic Winter Games, in PyeongChang, South Korea, Pence, who is leading the U.S. delegation there, made clear that the U.S. was not ruling out military options as tensions continued to roil the Korean Peninsula.

“We’re going to continue to put all the pressure to bear economically and diplomatically, while preserving all of our military options to see that that happens,” Pence said in a segment that aired Friday morning on “Today.”

Watch the full interview tonight on “NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt”

“President Trump and, and our allies in the region have agreed to delay our, our military exercises until after the Olympics. And, you know, President Moon, has appreciated that,” he added, referring to South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

“But we’re gonna make it crystal clear that our military, the Japanese self-defense forces, our allies here in South Korea, all of our allies across the region, are, are fully prepared to defend our nations and to take what is — action is necessary to defend our homeland,” Pence said.

North Korea ramped up its nuclear and missile programs last year, testing its first three intercontinental ballistic missiles and most powerful nuclear weapon to date. This was met with international sanctions as well as a flurry of insults between President Donald Trump and North Korean state media.

Pence also addressed the White House’s handling of former staff secretary Rob Porter, saying he was “appalled” when he first learned of the allegations against Porter, who resigned after his two ex-wives went public with accusations of physical and verbal domestic abuse.

“There’s no tolerance in this White House, and no place in America for domestic abuse,” Pence said.

After Pence sat down with NBC News, Trump spoke favorably of Porter at the White House Friday.

“We wish him well,” the president told reporters. “He worked very hard. Found out about it recently and I was surprised by it. … Obviously, tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”

Pence reiterated the position of White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, acknowledging that the administration “could have handled it better.”

“When I return to Washington, D.C., I’m going to look into the matter and I’ll share my counsel with the president directly,” Pence said.

Meanwhile, the vice president’s tough talk on the North stands in stark contrast to the most recent approach by South Korea, whose high-level discussions with its neighbor last month resulted in the two nations agreeing to participate together in the Winter Games. North and South Korean athletes even marched together during the opening ceremony in PyeongChang, just 50 miles from the North Korean border.

Image: Mike Pence, Kim Yong Nam, Kim Yo Jong

Vice President Mike Pence watches the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.