North Korea tested short-range missiles for the first time since Joe Biden arrived at the White House, but Washington played down the challenge gesture as the US president outlined his strategy for dealing with Pyongyang.
“We know that there were two missiles,” fired on Sunday, a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Other Biden administration officials insisted that it was a “short-range” system categorized as “normal northern military activities.” One of them told reporters that these shots “are not permitted by UN Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program.”
North Korea has a well-known list of provocations when it comes to sending a message to US governments – ballistic missiles of various ranges, mobile launchers and submarines, nuclear and thermonuclear experiments. Experts have rightly noticed that what happened this weekend was at the very bottom of this spectrum. “
Observers had expected a military warning from North Korea since the arrival of the new US president in January.
Unlike most previous shootings, this was not reported by South Korea, Japan, or the United States at the time. Several experts on Twitter estimated that they may have been cruise missiles, a relatively moderate response to the joint military exercises that Washington and Seoul have just carried out.
I am open to dialogue
The Biden administration made it clear that it immediately noticed the shooting on Sunday, but did not want to “give too much publicity” for what it did not consider to be a major provocation.
The new US president is developing his strategy towards North Korea, after his predecessor Donald Trump’s direct diplomatic attempt with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which did not allow progress to be made in the denuclearization of the reclusive state.
A US official said on Tuesday that this process is nearing an end.
Since February, the new US administration has tried unsuccessfully to contact the North Korean leadership.
North Korea warned last week that it would not change its attitude toward the United States until it gave up its “hostile policy” towards it, as the US Secretary of State for Business and Defense, Anthony Blinken and Lloyd Austin, were in Seoul. In particular, to strengthen Washington’s relations with South Korea against Pyongyang.
Kim Yoo Jong, the influential sister of Kim Jong Un, also issued a warning to “the new US administration that is trying,” she said, to “spread the scent of powder” in North Korea.
“If you want to sleep peacefully for the next four years, you’d better not do anything that makes you sleepy,” she said.
Despite these verbal and now military skirmishes, the United States assures us that it remains open to dialogue with the North Korean leadership.
But they also warn that they do not intend to abandon the joint military exercises with the South Koreans, as Donald Trump has done.
Next week, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will welcome his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to the White House. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will be the first foreign leader the new president personally receives in the United States in April.
Washington’s new strategy could be revealed soon after.
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