In September, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducted a series of missile tests, including the launch of ballistic missiles off its east coast, the first ballistic missile testing Pyongyang has conducted in the past six months.
The United States condemned the missile launches. At a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, “These missile launches are in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, and we know that they pose a threat to the DPRK’s neighbors and other members of the international community.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby declared, “These activities highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” and he reiterated the United States’ “ironclad commitment” to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan.
Nuclear negotiations between the United States and the DPRK have been stalled since 2019, but the Biden administration has made clear its desire to revive them.
State Department Spokesperson Price said, “We are committed to the principle that dialogue will allow us to pursue our ultimate objective, and that’s quite simply, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We have no hostile intent toward the DPRK,” he declared. “What we seek to do is to reduce the threat to the United States, to our allies in the region, and that includes the ROK and Japan, and we think we can do that through diplomacy.”
There has been a spate of recent diplomatic activity among the United States and countries in the region with North Korea on the agenda. In mid-September, U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Ambassador Sung Kim traveled to Tokyo and met with senior officials from Japan and the Republic of Korea to discuss, among other issues, DPRK activities. The foreign ministers of the PRC and the Republic of Korea also met in Seoul just days after the DPRK tested its long-range cruise missile.
State Department Spokesperson Price cited these meetings as important components of the engagement and diplomacy that the United States believes will lead to a shared goal of the United States and countries in the region: “meaningful progress on the road towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”