North Korea fired three ballistic missiles off the Sea of Japan early Wednesday in the hours after President Joe Biden left Asia after spending five days in South Korea and Japan.
US Indo-Pacific confirmed the launches along with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Japan’s defense minister.
“While this event poses no immediate threat to US personnel or territory or our allies, the missile launch underscores the destabilizing effect of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” US Indo-Pacific said in a statement. “US commitment to defending the Republic of Korea and Japan remains adamant.”
President Joe Biden returns to the White House on Tuesday evening from his five-day trip to Asia. The White House said Biden was briefed on the North Korean missile tests, which took place in the hours after he left
South Korean TV shows earlier North Korean missile launch. The US Indo-Pacific Command confirmed the new missile launches
The White House said Biden was briefed on the launches when he arrived in Washington Tuesday night.
During Biden’s trip to Asia – which was his first as US president – government officials warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could test missiles or nuclear weapons.
Biden was asked some questions about dealing with Kim in South Korea.
He gave a very literal response to reporters on Sunday when asked if he had a message for the North Korean dictator.
“Hello,” Biden replied. ‘Period.’
“We are prepared for anything North Korea does,” Biden said. “I’m not worried if you ask that.”
The president was also asked about Kim alongside South Korea’s new leader, President Yoon Suk Yeol, at his press briefing on Saturday.
Biden was asked if the US would consider sending COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea as the so-called “Hermit Kingdom” sees skyrocketing coronavirus cases.
“Yes, we have offered vaccines not only to North Korea, but also to China, and we stand ready to do so immediately,” Biden said.
“We have received no reply,” he added.
When meeting with Kim – who has met former President Donald Trump three times – Biden voiced reservations.
“Whether I would meet with the leader of North Korea would depend on whether he was serious and whether it was serious.”
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it was “honestly hard to speculate” why Kim didn’t test missiles or nuclear weapons while Biden was in South Korea.
“And every time people start speculating about what North Korea might or might not do, they tend to confuse their expectations in one way or another,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday the way to Japan.
Sullivan was also asked why the North Koreans are communicating with Trump’s White House but not with Biden’s.
“They go through cycles of being responsive and cycles of being unresponsive,” Sullivan explained. “We’re in a cycle where they don’t. This is true of several administrations and I simply cannot speculate as to the reasons for this.
He also noted that previous American presidents have typically seen a North Korean nuclear test in their first year in office, but that didn’t happen when Biden took office.