Speaking at the first news conference of his presidency on Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden was asked about North Korea and its recent missile launches, including the ballistic missiles that were fired in the last 24 hours. That followed North Korea’s firing of cruise missiles a few days earlier, the week after two U.S. cabinet secretaries visited the region and discussed the North Korea issue with their counterparts in South Korea and Japan.
“Let me say that number one, the UN resolution 1718 was violated by those particular missiles that were tested,” the president said. “We’re consulting with our allies and partners, and there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly.”
“But I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization. So that’s what we’re doing right now, consulting with our allies.”
When he was then asked if he agreed with former President Barack Obama’s warning to his successor, former President Donald Trump, that “North Korea was the top foreign policy issue that he was watching.”
Biden answered simply, “yes,” before moving on to the next question.
The press conference, in its first 30 minutes, concentrated much more on domestic policy issues than foreign policy issues, with the first several questions dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, economic concerns, the fate of the Senate filibuster, the influx of migrants who have recently shown up at the Southern border, and other issues.
Biden was also asked whether he plans to run for reelection in 2024, and indicated that he does, although he also seemed confused as to why he was being asked such questions.
In terms of other foreign policy issues, Biden was asked about Afghanistan, and whether the U.S. plans to meet its May 1 deadline of a U.S. withdrawal from that country. The president answered that he thinks it will be too logistically difficult to get all of the personnel out by that date, but remained committed to a withdrawal.
“We will leave, it’s a question of when we leave,” the president said of Afghanistan.
The press conference, Biden’s first as president, came 65 days into his first term. He began by reiterating that the main goal, at the outset of his presidency, was to solve the coronavirus crisis and the accompanying economic “dislocation.”
He went on to raise the administration’s goal for vaccinations to 200 million shots in 100 days after the original goal of 100 million was reached significantly ahead of schedule. The president also touted “new signs of hope” in the economy.
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.