North Korea launches two missiles in provocation, Biden responds

The Washington Post on Tuesday (March 23) quoted sources as saying that North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles over the weekend following joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea. President Joe Biden responded to the news in a statement.

The newspaper quoted sources as saying that North Korea’s weapons tests had been going on for weeks and that, unlike in the past, the North had made no public announcements related to the tests. The situation was eventually discovered by the U.S. intelligence network overseas.

In addition, North Korea has become more active in the area of nuclear testing. The website 38 North reports that recent satellite evidence seems to indicate that North Korea is stepping up activities at its Yongbyon nuclear testing center. The Washington Post noted that the Biden Administration is aware that the crisis of North Korea resuming nuclear testing is cause for concern.

In response, President Biden commented briefly Tuesday that North Korea’s move to test-fire two short-range missiles over the weekend suggests little has changed for the government in Pyongyang.

“We know nothing has changed much,” Biden told reporters.

Beyond that, Biden didn’t talk more about is potential U.S. response or condemnation of the North, a response that seemed somewhat understated.

In response to news of the North Korean missile launch, the White House said in a statement Tuesday that the U.S. “stands ready to continue to engage with key partners in East and North Asia, as well as North Korea,” authorities said, adding that at the meeting in Alaska, Chinese and U.S. officials did talk about the North Korean issue, which the Chinese side said was resolved through diplomatic means.

Following the meeting, the North Korean side was said to have been in contact with Beijing, and North Korean official media KCNA reported on March 23 that Kim Jong Un recently called out Xi Jinping, saying he was united in dealing with “hostile forces,” signaling Kim’s desire to work with Xi against the free world siege.

U.S. defense officials have warned in the past few weeks of intelligence indicating North Korea could test-fire missiles. On the eve of the 2+2 talks between the U.S. and South Korea last week, Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong criticized the U.S. and South Korea for holding joint military exercises and warned Biden not to provoke them if he wanted to “sleep peacefully. At the Time, a media analysis pointed out that North Korea wanted to seize the focus of the meeting and test the Biden administration’s bottom line, perhaps by first making a provocative move.

The Biden administration has not yet announced its strategy toward North Korea. While during the Obama administration, authorities refused to deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and declared that dealings with North Korea could only take place after that country’s government stopped misbehaving, the Trump period took the exact opposite approach, holding a face-to-face summit with the North Korean leader, engaging in active negotiations that were followed by a reduction in the North’s practice of detonating missile devices in 2018-2020, a phenomenon that was said to be an attempt by North Korea to a negotiated settlement of international issues and a move to secure assistance.

The current U.S. administration told Reuters that it had reached out to North Korea in February but had received no response.