Envoy: US and allies are preparing for N. Korean nuke test

The special envoy to North Korea for President Joe Biden said Friday that the United States was "preparing for all contingencies" and working closely with its Japanese and South Korean allies.

Envoy: US and allies are preparing for N. Korean nuke test

The special envoy to North Korea for President Joe Biden said Friday that the United States was "preparing for all contingencies" and working closely with its Japanese and South Korean allies. He also observed North Korean preparations for a possible nuclear explosion, which outside officials believe could be imminent.

South Korean and American intelligence officials claimed that they found evidence of North Korean attempts to prepare its northeastern test ground for another nuclear attack. This would be its seventh nuclear test since 2006, and its first since September 2017, when it claimed it had detonated an intercontinental ballistic missile-compatible thermonuclear weapon.

Sung Kim, U.S. special representative to North Korea was in Seoul to attend a trilateral meeting with South Korean and Japanese counterparts. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the increasing threat posed North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs.

"The U.S. believes that the DPRK has begun preparations at Punggye-ri for its seventh nuclear test. This assessment is consistent in the DPRK's recent public statements," Kim said, using the initials of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Kim stated that Washington will coordinate with Seoul and Tokyo in contingency planning. Washington is also ready to make "both shorter- and longer-term adjustments [to our military posture] as appropriate and responding any DPRK provocations and as necessary to strengthen both defence and deterrence, to protect our allies throughout the region."

Funakoshi Takehiro is Japan's director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs. He said that the North's string of recent ballistic tests and potential nuclear preparations highlight the need for a stronger international response. He also lamented the inaction of the United Nations Security Council over these tests.

Kim Gunn, South Korea’s representative at the nuclear ambassador, stated that North Korea's missile and nuclear weapon development would only strengthen security cooperation between the United States, its Asian allies, and further isolate the North.

He stated, "That's why it's so important to steer North Korea towards the paths for dialogue and diplomacy."

Since 2019, nuclear negotiations between Washington, Pyongyang and North Korea have been stalled due to disagreements over exchanging crippling U.S. sanctions against North Korea and North Korea's disarmament measures.

Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader, has increased his ballistic missile programs amid diplomatic pause. A nuclear test would increase his brinkmanship that aims to cement the North's nuclear power status and negotiate security and economic concessions from a position where he is strong.

North Korea has conducted 17 missile tests in 2022. This includes its first ICBM demonstrations for nearly five years. It is using a favorable climate to advance weapons development while the U.N. Security Council is still divided by Russia's war against Ukraine.

Last week, Russia and China vetoed a U.S. sponsored resolution that would have imposed further sanctions on North Korea for its latest ballistic test on May 25. South Korea claimed the tests involved an ICBM flying on a medium-range trajectory and two long-range weapons. These tests were made as Biden was wrapping up his visit to South Korea, Japan and China. He reaffirmed America's commitment to protect both allies against the North's nukes.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the U.S. ambassador at the U.N. She said that Washington will continue to push for additional sanctions in the event of a North Korean nuclear test.

Kim Jong Un's pressure campaign will not be stopped by a deadly coronavirus epidemic in his largely unvaccinated autocracy.

Dr. Mike Ryan is the World Health Organization's emergency chief. He said Wednesday that the U.N. assumes that the virus situation in North Korea has "getting worse, and not better" considering the absence of public health tools despite Pyongyang's claims that COVID-19 is slowing down.

Although North Korea has not yet accepted U.S. or South Korean offers for vaccines and other COVID-19 supplies to its country, China appears to be providing assistance, which is the country's main ally.

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