North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – North Korea conducted a missile test for the first time during President Joe Biden’s tenure last weekend. Senior administration officials said Tuesday night they are monitoring the situation but stressed that the actions constituted a low-level provocation.
Pyongyang fired at least one missile, but senior administrative officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to explain what type of weapon was fired, where the test was conducted, or the success rate.
At a briefing on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to comment on the missile launch.
The missile test comes when Pyongyang ignores invitations from Washington to discuss denuclearization and major joint US and South Korean military exercises resume on the peninsula.
“We have no illusions about the difficulties this task presents. We have a long history of disappointment with diplomacy with North Korea. It has defied the expectations of both the Republican and Democratic governments,” said a senior government official.
The official also said Washington was consulting with former Trump administration officials to gain additional insight into North Korea.
President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean President Kim Jong Un in Panmunjom, South Korea, in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas on June 30, 2019.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
“This type of saber-rattling is not threatening, but is intended to attract the attention of the Biden administration,” wrote Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a senior fellow at Defense Priorities, in a statement responding to the development.
“There is a way to negotiate freezes and potential rollbacks in exchange for limited sanction relief. But unless Washington is willing to compromise and normalize relations, Kim should continue developing and testing weapons,” Davis added.
Harry Kazianis, Senior Director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest, described North Korea’s actions as a message to the new government.
“With these new missile tests, Pyongyang is signaling to Team Biden that its military capabilities are getting stronger every day,” said Kazianis.
Last week, a senior North Korean official said Pyongyang would not respond to numerous invitations to resume nuclear talks until the United States abandons “hostile policies”.
“We have already stated our position that contact and dialogue between the DPRK and the US will not be possible if the US does not retract its hostile policy towards the DPRK,” said Choe Son Hui, first deputy foreign minister, according to a published statement by the Korean state central news agency on Thursday.
Also last week, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned the United States when Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin began their first trip abroad under Biden’s leadership. The two visited South Korea and Japan to forge alliances and reaffirm US commitments and interests in the region.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration that is trying to give something [gun] The smell of powder in our country, “Kim Yo Jong said in a statement referring to joint US and South Korean military exercises in the region.
“If it [the U.S.] wants to sleep in peace for the next four years, it should be better not to cause a stink at the first step, “she added, according to an English translation.
Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Jorge Silva | Reuters
Later on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration had no “direct comment or answer”.
″Our goal will always be centered on diplomacy and denuclearization in North Korea, “she said.” We are currently focused on working with and coordinating with our partners and allies on a number of issues, including security in the region. “
Under Kim Jong Un, the secluded state carried out its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first ballistic ICBM and threatened to launch missiles into the waters near the US territory of Guam.
Since 2011, Kim has fired more than 100 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapon tests. This is more than what his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung fired over a 27 year period.