Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the US will maintain pressure on North Korea through sanctions until the country “changes course” as tensions on the Korean Peninsula are soaring.
“Until the regime in Pyongyang changes course, we will continue to keep the pressure on,” Blinken told reporters after meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Park Jin.
Blinken said that the US is open to dialogue with North Korea, but the Biden administration has not offered any incentives to bring Pyongyang to the table, such as sanctions relief. In the meantime, North Korea has been conducting frequent missile tests.
The US and Seoul responded to a North Korean test last week by launching eight ballistic missiles into the sea off South Korea’s coast. The missile launch marked a more hawkish response from the US and South Korea and came not long after South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol, who vowed to take a firmer stance on Pyongyang, was sworn into office.
The US is now warning that North Korea might conduct its first nuclear test since 2017. Last week, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman warned there would be a “forceful” response if Pyongyang carried out a nuclear test.
During Monday’s meeting, Park said he and Blinken agreed to restart the extended deterrence working group, which deals with the US nuclear umbrella. President Yoon wants the US to return nuclear bombers and submarines to the Korean Peninsula, but it’s not yet clear if Washington will agree to the deployment. The US removed its strategic nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991.