Biden on North Korea: 'There will be responses if they choose to escalate'

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WASHINGTON — President Biden was asked during his press conference on Thursday about recent North Korean rocket launches that were widely viewed as a test of his administration.

“Let me say that, number one, U.N. Resolution 1718 was violated by those particular missiles that were tested,” Biden said. “We’re consulting with our allies and partners, and there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly.”

Biden did not directly answer a question about what his so-called red line would be with respect to North Korea.

Joe Biden
President Biden at his press conference on Thursday. (Evan Vucci/AP)

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday. According to the South Korean and Japanese governments, the rockets crashed into the sea near Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The rocket launch followed cruise missile tests on Sunday, North Korea’s first since Biden took office on Jan. 20. U.S. officials initially suggested that the tests last weekend were not violations of U.N. regulations that bar North Korea from conducting nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.

After addressing the rocket launches, Biden indicated he is open to diplomatic engagement with North Korea.

“I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization, so that’s what we’re doing right now, consulting with our allies,” he said.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had unprecedented diplomatic engagement with North Korea, including three meetings with the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. However, those talks eventually broke down.

During Thursday's press conference, Biden’s first since taking office, he was asked if he shared former President Barack Obama’s view that North Korea should be a top foreign policy priority. Biden had a one-word response: “Yes.”


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