When asked about North Korea’s latest missile tests at his first press conference, President Biden warned there would be a “response” if Pyongyang chooses to “escalate” the situation.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on Thursday. “UN Resolution 1718 was violated by those particular missiles that were tested,” Biden said at Thursday’s press conference.
UN Resolution 1718 sanctioned North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile program. Last weekend, Pyongyang launched two short-range missiles that are not under UN sanctions, which the US downplayed as “normal activity.”
Biden also said he is prepared for “some form of diplomacy” with North Korea but that it must be conditioned on the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. The demand for denuclearization is likely a non-starter for talks with Pyongyang.
When asked if he agrees with President Obama’s assessment that North Korea is the most important foreign policy issue, Biden responded, “Yes,” but did not elaborate.
Pyongyang’s missile tests came after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made threatening comments towards North Korea during a visit to Seoul last Thursday. Austin said US and South Korean forces were ready to “fight tonight.” His remarks came after Pyongyang denounced Washington and Seoul’s decision to resume military exercises after a one-year pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.