STORY: Speaking from the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday dealt unusually strong criticism to the North… after which it fired two ballistic missiles, allegedly in the direction of her flight back to Washington.
"In the North, we see a brutal dictatorship, rampant human rights violations and an unlawful weapons program that threatens peace and stability."
Soon after Harris wrapped up her trip to Asia, North Korea – for the third time in five days – launched missiles into the sea off its east coast.
South Korea’s military said it happened about two hours after Harris’ flight took-off.
Harris got a look at the heavily armed Korean border, Thursday, amid tension over China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait and amid fears that North Korea is about to conduct a nuclear test. That would mark the first such test since 2017.
The Vice President pledged U.S. support to South Korea:
“Our shared goal, the United States and the Republic of Korea, is a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
"Nearly 70 years since the Korean armistice, the threat of conflict remains, and we are reminded that the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea stands ready to address any contingency. The commitment of the United States to the defense of the Republic of Korea, I will report, is iron clad."
Aides said Harris' DMZ visit, the first by a Biden administration official, was intended to show unwavering U.S. security commitment to South Korea.
Harris also held talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during her visit.
And, according to Yoon’s office, they agreed to immediately implement (quote) ‘jointly prepared countermeasures’ if the North pushed ahead with serious provocations.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said it is developing nuclear weapons and missiles to defend against U.S. threats.