Monday, August 15, 2022

North Korea looms over Biden as first Asia visit

Although US foreign policy during the first half of Joe Biden’s presidency has focused more on issues such as rising China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden will face another sinister foreign policy issue this week, a nuclear- Armed North Korea.

Biden, who departs Friday for his first visit to Asia as president, could be greeted by a major North Korean weapons test, according to US and South Korean officials.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday that US intelligence shows a “real possibility” that North Korea will launch either a long-range missile or a nuclear test, or possibly both, during or near Biden’s visit to Asia. in days.

“We are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that such a stimulus will occur in Korea or Japan,” Sullivan said at a briefing.

Much of Biden’s five-day visit is expected to focus on China, where he will work to reassure allies who have questioned the long-term US commitment to the region.

During the visit, Biden is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a long-awaited economic initiative aimed at increasing US involvement in Asia.

In Tokyo, Biden will hold a meeting of the Quad, a grouping of four countries made up of the United States, Japan, India and Australia – democracies that have a strong interest in halting the rise of China.

In Seoul, Biden will meet with the newly elected President of South Korea, Eun Suk Yeol, who has vowed to take a tough stand on China and who seeks to expand cooperation with Washington on other global issues.

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However, South Korean officials have warned for days that a major North Korean test could sabotage Biden’s agenda. South Korean and US officials have come up with a “Plan B” that could include changing Biden’s current schedule in the event of North Korean provocation, according to Kim Tae-hyo, South Korea’s First Deputy National Security Adviser.

North Korea has often made major launches by US presidents on or near the region’s visits. Some analysts say such moves could be to attract the attention of US diplomats or to increase North Korean leverage in potential nuclear talks.

North Korea has fired several missiles this year. In March, the North launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile in nearly five years.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service believes that North Korea has also completed preparations for its seventh nuclear test and is currently determining the best time to conduct such a detonation. According to South Korean lawmakers quoted by Yonhap news agency.

Biden’s visit comes a week after North Korea first acknowledged that it is struggling to contain the coronavirus and began reporting an explosion of “fever” cases, which have been attributed to COVID-19. 19 is believed to be related.

On Thursday, North Korean state media reported 262,270 new fever cases and one additional death. Over the past week, North Korean officials say nearly 2 million people have been affected by the fever outbreak, which has killed 63.

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However, analysts are skeptical of North Korean pandemic figures, saying Pyongyang may be hiding the true extent of the outbreak for political reasons or not supplying enough to track the spread of the virus.

Medical experts have long warned that the coronavirus outbreak could devastate North Korea, whose dilapidated health care system focuses mainly on the well-being of the elite in wealthier parts of the country.

Earlier this week, the US State Department expressed support for providing COVID-19 vaccines and other pandemic aid to North Korea.

Analysts have warned that despite its dire pandemic status, North Korea is no more likely than ever to accept outside aid.

“Just because North Korea has confirmed the infection doesn’t mean it will fall into the hands of the international community,” said Professor Leif-Eric Easley from Iwa University in Seoul. Instead, North Korea may continue testing large arms to “avoid showing weakness,” Isley said.

“Such free launches also reinforce how difficult it will be for North Koreans to reach,” he said.

North Korea has rejected or ignored several offers of COVID-19 aid, including shipments of vaccines from COVAX, a UN-backed vaccine sharing mechanism.

According to the World Health Organization, North Korea and Eritrea are the only two countries in the world that have not yet started large-scale coronavirus vaccination.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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