The White House also said that the U.S. president will not visit the demilitarized zone (DMZ), which separates North and South Korea, during his visit to Seoul.
According to the U.S. intelligence community, North Korea may test–fire a nuclear bomb or test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile this week – that is, before, during or after President Joe Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan. This was announced by the president’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
The White House said Biden will not visit the demilitarized zone (DMZ), which separates North and South Korea, during his visit to Seoul, which begins on Friday.
“Our intelligence really reflects the real possibility that in the days leading up to the president’s trip, during or after it, either new missile tests, including long-range missile tests, or nuclear tests, or… both will be held,” Sullivan said at a White House press briefing. “We are preparing for all unforeseen circumstances.”
Sullivan said the United States is coordinating closely with South Korea and Japan. In addition, according to him, he discussed the North Korean issue on Wednesday by phone with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.
Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan, which will take place from May 20 to 24, will be his first trip to Asia as president. The program of the visit includes the first summit meeting with the new President of South Korea, Yoon Suk–yeol, who was elected on May 10, who promised to take a tougher stance against “provocations” by North Korea.
According to Sullivan, the United States is ready to make both short- and long-term adjustments to its military position as necessary, “to ensure that we provide both protection and deterrence to our allies in the region, and that we will respond to any North Korean provocation.”
South Korea’s deputy national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo said yesterday that a test of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile “seems inevitable,” and a U.S. administration official said it could happen as early as Thursday or Friday.
The South Korean side has already prepared a plan in case Pyongyang decides to coincide the “provocation” with Biden’s visit. The plan includes a possible change in the schedule of the summit.
The administration has asked Washington to deploy more “strategic assets” capable of carrying nuclear weapons in the region, such as long-range bombers, submarines and aircraft carriers.
According to Kim Tae-hyo, the chances that North Korea will also conduct nuclear tests this weekend “seem low,” but if Pyongyang arranges a “major provocation,” then the appropriate means will be ready for deployment.