For about a year, North Korea has not conducted a known weapons test. U.S. intelligence officials are warning that this could soon change, according to a report Wednesday.
CNN, citing as its source several U.S. officials it did not identify, reported that North Korea soon could carry out its first weapons test during President Joe Biden’s tenure in office.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were in Asia on Wednesday for meetings with leaders from Japan and South Korea. Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners provided little clarification on the matter.
“We don’t comment on intelligence matters,” he told CNN. “North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction represent a threat to U.S. interests and the security of our allies and partners.
“In the near term, DoD, in close coordination with allies and partners, will seek to deter negative behavior from North Korea.”
CNN said the last known weapons test from North Korea was in March 2020. However, Pyongyang has a history of taking action early in a new administration as a display of power.
“North Korea traditionally has done some kind of strongly provocative action early in both U.S. and South Korean new administrations,” Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Bruce Klingner told the outlet.
He said North Korea performed tests in 2009 and 2017, the last two times a new president occupied the White House in January.
“If they do a provocation, it’s perfectly predictable,” Klingner said.
The news of the possible test comes on the heels of a threat from North Korea to the Biden administration. On Monday, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of dictator Kim Jong Un, discouraged the administration from “causing a stink,” CNN reported.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land,” she said. “If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
Despite his promises to make America a world leader, Biden has not made any real progress so far.
Earlier this month, U.S. adversaries China and Russia announced they had agreed to construct a joint lunar space station.
Meanwhile, North Korea presents another threat to America. Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, who is responsible for the defense of the U.S. mainland, said Tuesday that North Korea is inching closer to an ICBM that could reach the United States.
“The Kim Jong Un regime has achieved alarming success in its quest to demonstrate the capability to threaten the U.S. homeland with nuclear-armed ICBMs, believing such weapons are necessary to deter U.S. military action and ensure his regime’s survival,” VanHerck told the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
U.S. intelligence officials have been watching a site in Sanum-dong where they believe ballistic missile and space launch vehicles have been constructed, the report said.
A March 12 analysis of satellite images by 38 North found that North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear center has been conducting activities as well.
“It would be a violation of U.N. resolutions on a grand scale; it would require [a] strong Biden admin response; and it would curtail diplomatic outreach,” Klingner said of a potential ICBM test.
“When they do something provocative, it puts a three- to six-month pause on diplomacy because no one wants to be seen rewarding that kind of behavior.”
If North Korea does in fact perform an ICBM test, the Biden administration’s response will be critical to both the perception and safety of the United States.
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