It wasn’t immediately clear under what conditions Kim could step down, but the Biden government has tried to de-escalate with North Korea as a whole.
“We are looking for evidence of testing given the timing of our practice now and today [Kim’s] Statements and actions in the past, ”said the first officer.
The warnings from US officials echo the comments from the head of the US Northern Command, who warned members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee Tuesday that North Korea could soon test an improved ICBM.
“In October 2020, North Korea unveiled a new ICBM that is significantly larger and presumably more powerful than the systems tested in 2017, further increasing the threat to our home country,” Air Force General Glen VanHerck said in a written testimony. “The North Korean regime has also stated that it is no longer bound by the unilateral moratorium on nuclear and ICBM testing announced in 2018, suggesting that Kim Jong Un could begin testing an improved ICBM design in the near future. “
Such a resumption of missile testing would be cause for concern, officials said. Although Pyongyang stopped testing long-range missiles after former President Donald Trump’s 2018 Singapore Summit with Kim, they continued to develop and develop sophisticated new capabilities, including a new class of ICBMs, two new ballistic anti-submarine missiles, and diversified their inventory of short-range ballistic missile launchers, said a second senior defense official.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang recently demonstrated new main battle tanks, anti-tank guns and mobile air defense systems – despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the defense official said.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the intelligence agency.
“North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction poses a threat to the interests of the United States and the security of our allies and partners,” said Lt. Col. Martin Meiners. “In the near future, the Department of Defense will work closely with allies and partners to try to deter negative behavior from North Korea.”
North Korean rhetoric heats up when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are on their first overseas visit to Asia. The two met with their Japanese counterparts and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo on Tuesday before heading to South Korea on Wednesday.
Kim Yo Jong, Kim’s sister, in a statement Tuesday criticized Washington and Seoul for holding the exercises and warned the Biden government not to “cause a stink”.
“If you want to sleep well for the next four years, it would be good if you don’t do things that would prevent you from sleeping properly from the start,” she said in a statement.
The Biden government has reached Pyongyang through various channels but has not yet received a response, Blinken said in Tokyo on Tuesday.