Reuters reports that North Korea’s claim that it had launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile has highlighted military advances by the nuclear-armed state and propelled it to the top of new U.S. President Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda.
Biden had previously left North Korea entirely out of his maiden foreign policy speech in February, and in outlining eight diplomatic priorities earlier in March, his secretary of state didn’t focus on North Korea except to list it as one of several countries that pose a challenge.
Read the full Reuters article.
At his first White House press conference on Thursday 25 March 2021, the US President confirmed that North Korea was a top foreign policy issue for the US. He went on to say that the US was consulting with allies and partners regarding responses. He also said that he was “prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization.”
Q If I could just ask you about foreign policy, Mr. President. Overnight, we learned that North Korea tested two ballistic missiles. What, if any, actions will you take? And what is your red line on North Korea?
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say that, number one, U.N. Resolution 1718 was violated by those particular missiles that were tested — number one. We’re consulting with our allies and partners. And there will be responses — if they choose to escalate, we will respond accordingly.
But I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization. So that’s what we’re doing right now: consulting with our allies.
Q Diplomacy: Can you define what you mean? And former President Obama warned the incoming President Trump that North Korea was the top foreign policy issue that he was watching. Is that how you assess the crisis in North Korea?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Read the full transcript of Remarks by President Biden in Press Conference, 25 March 2021 (external link to White House website).
Related media reports
North Korea dismisses US offer for nuclear talks, citing ‘hostile policy’ (France24, 18 March 2021)
North Korea conducts first missile test since Biden took office (The Hill, 23 March 2021)
Timeline: North Korea’s weaponised diplomacy (Al Jazeera, 25 March 2021)
North Korea launches missiles, but U.S. still wants to talk (Politico, 23 March 2021)
North Korea fires short-range missiles in challenge to Biden administration (Washington Post, 23 March 2021)
Xi, Kim share messages reaffirming China-N. Korea alliance (AP, 23 March 2021)
North Korea says latest launch tested new ‘tactical guided projectile’ (France24, 26 March 2021)
N Korea confirms missile tests as Biden warns of response (AP, 26 March 2021)
North Korea carries out suspected ballistic missile launch (Al Jazeera, 25 March 2021)
Image: North Korean Leader, Kim Jong Un, photograph released 24 March 2021 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency