Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Thursday, marking Pyongyang’s second missile test of Biden’s presidency. South Korea said that projectiles were launched from the North but did not specify which type of missiles were used.
On Tuesday, the White House said North Korea launched short-range missiles over the weekend. But US officials downplayed the weekend test since the missiles that were used are not under US sanctions.
If Suga’s claims are true, that North Korea launched ballistic missiles, this means the latest test used missiles that are targeted by UN sanctions. US media outlets are portraying Thursday’s test as a “major provocation,” but it is likely just a reaction to the US and South Korea resuming military drills and recent threatening comments from US officials.
From Seoul last Thursday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said US and South Korean forces are ready to “fight tonight.” His comments came after Pyongyang denounced Washington and Seoul’s decision to resume military exercises after a one-year pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Biden administration is currently reviewing its North Korea policy. But in the meantime, Biden officials are calling for a “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, which is a non-starter for talks with Pyongyang. A realistic approach that was explored by the Trump administration would be to offer sanctions relief in exchange for a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.