Pence: 'US will not rest until North Korea gives up nuclear weapons'

Tensions with North Korea over its nuclear programme continue to mount as the United States Vice President Mike Pence says the US will not back down on ensuring the Korean Peninsula is free of nuclear weapons.

Mr Pence made the comments during a visit to Japan as part of his 10-day tour of Asia.

After meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders, Mr Pence told reporters that President Donald Trump was confident that economic and diplomatic pressure has a chance of compelling North Korea to cooperate.

Mr Pence reiterated that the era of strategic patience is over - an ambiguous declaration meant to inject urgency into the search for a diplomatic solution.

The world had feared that at the weekend Kim Jong-un would order a nuclear test to coincide with annual celebrations - the failed missile test that occurred was less provocative.

The variant that exploded on lift off may have been a Musudan - a missile so unreliable that the US intelligence community estimates it has an 88% failure rate.

At least two previously unseen missiles were on show during the big parade in North Korea at the weekend.

US Vice President Mike Pence with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Credit: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool

However Professor Kim Dong-yub, an expert on North Korean missiles, believes the North Koreans were bluffing and that the canisters were empty.

Professor Kim says the North Koreans are having real problems developing long-range missiles and that they are at least five years away from having a nuclear tip missile capable of reaching the United States.

Mr Trump has previously said he hopes China will lean on North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons and missiles programme, but that if it did not, the US will act alone to eliminate the threat.

Last week China warned that the two nations "need to stop provoking one another"and that there would be "no winners" if war between the US and North Korea broke out.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pledged support for dialogue between the two nations.

Us President Donald Trump has said the US will act alone against North Korea if it needs to. Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

ITV News' Senior International Correspondent John Irvine said that the United States say all options are on the table, but first and foremost it is a negotiating table at which they will lean on China.

He added that the Trump administration may be sounding different from its predecessors, but its approach is largely the same.