Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea said Friday the United States is “preparing for all contingencies” in close coordination with allies South Korea and Japan as he monitors preparations for Pyongyang for a possible nuclear test that foreign officials say could be imminent.
South Korean and US intelligence officials said they have detected North Korean efforts to prepare its northeastern test center for another nuclear test, which would be the seventh since 2006 and the first since September 2017, when it announced it detonated a thermonuclear bomb that would fit its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Sung Kim, the US special representative for North Korea, was participating in a three-way summit in Seoul with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan to address the growing threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
“The United States believes that the DPRK is preparing its Punggye-ri test center for what would be its seventh nuclear test. This assessment is consistent with the DPRK’s own recent public statements,” Kim said, referring to the hermetic nation using the initials of its official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In addition to coordinating contingency plans with Seoul and Tokyo, Washington is also gearing up to “adjust our military posture in both the short and long term, as appropriate and in response to any provocation from the DPRK, and to strengthen where necessary.” both defense and deterrence to protect our allies in the region,” the envoy added.
Funakoshi Takehiro, Japan’s director general for Asian and Oceanic Affairs, noted that the ballistic tests carried out by the North this year and the possible preparations for nuclear tests show the need for a more forceful international response, and lamented the inaction of the Council of Security of the United Nations after the last tests.
For his part, Seoul representative Kim Gunn said North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles will only strengthen security cooperation between Washington and its Asian allies, and aggravate Pyongyang’s isolation and economic problems.
“That is why it is so important to lead North Korea back to the path of dialogue and diplomacy,” he said.
Nuclear diplomacy between the United States and North Korea stalled in 2019 due to discrepancies over the disarmament steps that Pyongyang should take in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions on the country, led by Washington.
Taking advantage of the deadlock in dialogue, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has expanded his ballistic missile program, and a nuclear test would intensify a capability with which he seeks to cement the North’s status as a nuclear power and negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength.
So far this year, North Korea has conducted 17 missile tests, including the first with ICBMs in nearly five years.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.