WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — U.S. intelligence indicates there is a “genuine possibility” that North Korea may conduct a new ballistic missile or nuclear test during President Joe Biden’s tour of South Korea and Japan, which starts later this week, according to the White House.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday that the United States is preparing for North Korea to carry out “a long-range missile test launch, or a nuclear test, or both,” before , during or after Biden’s visit to the region. The president is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Friday and leave for Japan on Sunday.
“We are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that this act of provocation occurs while we are in South Korea or Japan,” Sullivan said. “We are in close coordination with our allies in South Korea and Japan on this matter.”
In recent months, North Korea has carried out test launches of missiles, in what experts describe as an attempt to modernize its arsenal and pressure its rivals to accept the country as a nuclear nation and relax sanctions. The most recent tests, the launch of three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, came on the same day last week that Pyongyang acknowledged its first case of COVID-19.
Sullivan said he spoke with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, about a possible North Korean provocation earlier on Wednesday. Beijing has been Pyongyang’s closest interlocutor.
Sullivan did not specify what the US reaction would be to the additional North Korean tests, but said the administration would make “necessary short-term and long-term adjustments to our military posture to ensure that we provide both defense and deterrence to our allies in the war.” region” in response to Pyongyang.