With two U.S. cabinet secretaries in Asia huddling with allies, in part in discussions about what to do with North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, a new report says the United States has come to an understanding from its assessment of North Korea’s intentions.
According to a report Tuesday from CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, North Korea “could be preparing to carry out their first weapons test” of the Biden era. The report cited U.S. intelligence, as well as “several U.S. officials speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity.”
Intelligence, per CNN, has been “focused on vehicle activity at a site near Sanum-dong, outside Pyongyang, where ballistic missile and space launch vehicles are believed to have been built in the past.”
Another official told CNN that North Korea “might decide whether to go through with a test after seeing what comes out of Blinken and Austin’s meetings in Asia.”
Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are touring Asia this week, meeting already with their Japanese counterparts, with similar meetings scheduled in South Korea Wednesday. Meanwhile, the countries are also staging military exercises, albeit only as computer simulations, due to coronavirus concerns.
The U.S. secretaries confirmed, in meeting with the press in Japan, that they remain committed to “complete denuclearization of North Korea,” and also of strengthening alliances in Asia.
“We’re looking at whether various additional pressure measures could be effective, whether there are diplomatic paths that make sense, all of that is under review,” Blinken said in Tokyo, as he stood alongside Secretary Austin and the two secretaries’ Japanese counterparts, Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi.
With the American officials on the ground in Asia, Kim Yo-jong issued a somewhat cryptic statement on Monday.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land,” Kim Jong-un’s sister said, according to North Korean state media. “If it wants to sleep in peace for (the) coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
North Korea’s conducted weapons tests in the spring of 2020, even following the diplomatic opening that took place between the United States and North Korea during the Trump Administration. However, North Korea has not tested nuclear weapons for a number of years.
“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,” Gen. Glen Van Herck, head of U.S. Northern Command, told CNN in the story.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.