North Korea last weekend tested two missiles off its west coast in its first publicly known weapons test since Joe Biden took office as president in January, authorities in the United States said on Tuesday. A senior Biden Administration official said that they were monitoring the situation, but stressed that the actions represented a low-level provocation.
The official also said that the North Korean activity involved weapons systems that were not covered by UN Security Council testing bans. North Korea fired at least two short-range missiles, but senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity did not elaborate on what type of weapon was launched, the location of the test, nor its success rate.
North Korea Provokes Again
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday that North Korea fired two cruise missiles off its west coast on Sunday and the tests are beings tracked. However, even then the United States believes that these tests were done in a bid to provoke Washington but hopes that talks between the two are still possible.
"The outreach from us to North Korea can be described, follows over a year, across two administrations now, without active dialogue with North Korea, despite multiple attempts by the US and across two administrations to engage. We do not see the activity that took place this weekend as closing that door," the official said on a briefing call with reporters Tuesday.
The tests are the first since July last year when Pyongyang fired what were also thought to be cruise missile, and took place as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a visit to northeast Asia promising to work towards the North's denuclearization.
Showing its Might
The missile test comes as Pyongyang ignores invitations from Washington to discuss denuclearization and as larger joint US and South Korean military exercises on the peninsula resume. North Korea has long chafed at the joint exercises, which it considers provocative and a threat to invade the Hermit country.
Moreover, the missile tests comes just a week after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, threatened the United States in a series of caustic remarks. Kim Yo-jong warned the Biden Administration not to "make a stink" just as US officials were to arrive last week in Seoul.
"A word of advice to the new administration of the United States that is struggling to spread the smell of gunpowder on our land from across the ocean," Km Yo-jong had told official state media.
Meanwhile, Biden, during a visit to Ohio, told reporters, referring to the North Korean government: "We have learned that nothing much has changed." The US officials also said that Washington consulted with former Trump administration officials in order to gain additional insight on North Korea and its actions.
Former President Donald Trump had time and again boasted his ability to work with Kim Jong Un as the two had met three times in 2018 and 2019. However, Trump's attempt failed to achieve a breakthrough, as talks collapsed over United States' calls for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and Pyongyang's demands for an end to sanctions.
Since then not much has happened till earlier month the Biden administration signaled a shift earlier with Blinken calling during a trip to Seoul for a "denuclearization of North Korea." But the fresh tests might once again jeopardize things.