By: SEAN HANRAHAN
According to US Air Force General Glen VanHerck, North Korea may be planning a missile test soon, presenting it as their first outright challenge to the Biden administration. This prediction is largely based around the recent unveiling of the latest model of North Korea’s ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) program at a military parade, as well as hostile rhetoric in response to the Biden administration’s stated policy ideas for the region. With US secretary of state Antony Blinken and defense secretary Lloyd Austin beginning visits to Japan and South Korea, it appears North Korea is again being considered an active threat. Their advances in nuclear weaponry have prompted some to say that the stakes of diplomacy in the region have been raised.
General VanHerck gave written testimony to the senate armed services committee, stating “The North Korean regime has also indicated that it is no longer bound by the unilateral nuclear and ICBM testing moratorium announced in 2018, suggesting that Kim Jong-un may begin flight testing an improved ICBM design in the near future.”; Also warning that North Korea has ‘demonstrated its ability to threaten the mainland US’. Despite VanHerck’s testimony, analysts seem to disagree that any upcoming test would far more likely be of short-range conventional missiles.
The Biden administration has been harshly in favor of denuclearizing North Korea, and Blinken has declined to comment on the supposed tests, instead stating “We’re looking at whether various additional pressure measures could be effective, whether there are diplomatic paths that make sense … all of that is under review”. Blinken, and perhaps the administration as a whole, seem to be unswayed by North Korea’s harsh response to the prospect of denuclearization.