As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, America’s enemies and rivals are watching closely to gauge President Joe Biden’s response and, in some instances, are making provocative moves of their own.
That would include North Korea, which over the past few weeks has conducted two tests of its new intercontinental ballistic missile system in what the Biden administration has described as a “serious escalation,” Fox News reported.
Such was the assessment put forward by an unnamed senior administration official Thursday concerning the North Korean test launches that occurred on Feb. 26 and March 4.
The U.S. “strongly condemns” North Korean missile launch tests
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby issued a statement Thursday noting that it was believed the two test launches were related to the rogue nation’s newest ICBM system that was first unveiled in a military parade in late 2020.
“The purpose of these tests, which did not demonstrate ICBM range, was likely to evaluate this new system before conducting a test at full range in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch,” Kirby said.
The spokesman continued: “The United States strongly condemns these launches, which are a brazen violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, needlessly raise tensions, and risk destabilizing the security situation in the region.”
Kirby added that while the Biden administration remained “committed to a diplomatic approach” to dealing with the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), it was nonetheless taking steps to reinforce its “ironclad” defense agreements with regional allies like Japan and South Korea.
“Enhanced readiness” status for missile defense forces and new economic sanctions
According to NBC News, those measures included increased reconnaissance and surveillance missions in and around the Yellow Sea as well as an “enhanced readiness” status for U.S. missile defense forces deployed around the region.
On top of that, the unnamed senior official told NBC that the U.S. Treasury Department was preparing to unveil that would “help prevent the DPRK from accessing foreign items and technology that enable it to advance prohibited weapons programs.”
“There will be a range of further actions in the coming days,” the official added. “These actions are intended to make clear to the DPRK that these unlawful and destabilizing activities have consequences, that the international community will not accept these actions as normal, and, most importantly, that the only viable path forward for the DPRK is through diplomatic negotiations.”
No missile tests since 2017 until now
Fox News noted that this isn’t the first time North Korea has provocatively test-fired ballistic missiles since President Biden took office last year, after having refrained from doing so for several years prior during the tenure of former President Donald Trump, who had engaged in a historic effort to reduce tensions by engaging in direct diplomacy with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
There were at least two tests in early January of what is believed to be a new “hypersonic” missile developed by the rogue communist regime, the launches of which earned that regime a new set of sanctions imposed at that time by the Biden administration, which claims to be open to more diplomacy but has made little or no moves in that regard.