When North Korea launched two cruise missiles two weeks ago, President Biden downplayed the severity, even laughing when asked about the diplomatic implications. But when the same regime launched ballistic missiles a few days later, the administration took it much more seriously, with Biden stating that North Korea had violated U.N. resolutions with the launch.
On Monday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken further addressed North Korea’s launches, in a briefing with reporters at the United Nations Security Council in New York.
Blinken was first asked about the North Korea situation by Si Haeng Jeong, of the Chosun Ilbo daily newspaper in South Korea. The reporter asked if there was still room for negotiation, what the biggest differences are between the Biden Administration’s approach to North Korea, as opposed to that of President Trump.
“I returned just a short while ago from a trip to the Indo-Pacific, met with our counterparts in Japan and South Korea, and North Korea was a primary topic of conversation in both countries,” Blinken said in the briefing, per the State Department’s transcript. “And we also discussed it with our Chinese counterparts in Anchorage, Alaska a couple of days later. And this is one of those areas where I think we have at least some alignment of interest with Beijing. Following that trip, the national security advisors of Japan and South Korea will be in Washington to meet with Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor. We know how important coordination is among the United States, South Korea, and Japan when it comes to North Korea, and we’re gratified to have the opportunity to advance trilateral cooperation.”
Blinken also reiterated that the administration is still conducting its review of North Korea policy, and specifically referenced the missile launches.
“We know as a matter of general principle that we are much better positioned to take on any challenge when we do so in concert with our allies,” Blinken said. “That certainly applies to North Korea. We’ve, of course, had recent provocations and we’ve condemned them. These destabilizing ballistic missile launches are subject to our condemnation and those of allies and partners, including in the UN system, because they violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions and threaten the region and the broader international community.”
Blinken went on to call America’s commitment to the defense of Japan and South Korea as “ironclad.”
“I would just say that what we’re seeing from Pyongyang in terms of these provocations does nothing to shake the resolve of our three countries, along with allies and partners around the world, to approach North Korea from a position of strength in order to diminish the threat that it poses to the region and beyond,” Blinken said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing. And again, we’ll have more when we complete our review and are able to share it.”
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.