A top Biden administration official warned of a “swift and forceful response” against North Korea if the nation conducts a nuclear weapon test.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke with officials in South Korea and Japan about such a counter-response if the North moves forward with a nuclear test for the first time in almost five years, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
“Any nuclear test would be in complete violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. There would be a swift and forceful response to such a test,” Sherman said following a meeting with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong. “We continue to urge Pyongyang to cease its destabilizing and provocative activities and choose the path of diplomacy.”
In addition to verbal warnings, the U.S. sent four F-16 fighter jets to fly alongside 16 South Korean aircraft in the airspace just off South Korea’s eastern coast. The military exercise was meant to deter North Korea from proceeding with a nuclear test, and demonstrate an ability to swiftly respond to any aggression from the North, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The U.S. also worked with Japan on an independent drill using four Japanese F-15 fighters and two American F-16s over the waters separating the Korean Peninsula from Japan.
Just this year, North Korea has held 18 missile launches, including an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“We have called on members of the international community, certainly members of the U.N. Security Council’s permanent five, to be responsible stakeholders in the U.N. Security Council as a preeminent forum for addressing threats to international peace and security,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said just before Sherman’s meeting in South Korea.
“Unilateral actions are never going to be the most attractive or even the most effective response, and that is especially the case because we are gratified that we have close allies in the form of Japan and the ROK,” he said. “ROK” is the acronym of South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.
On Monday local time, the U.S. and South Korea together fired eight surface-to-surface missiles hours after North Korea fired a barrage of short-range ballistic missiles, a South Korean defense official said, according to Reuters.
“The South Korea-U.S. combined firing of the ground-to-ground missiles demonstrated the capability and posture to launch immediate precision strikes on the origins of provocations and their command and support forces,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.