The Biden administration believes North Korea is testing a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which it claims is the largest launched since 2017. It was assessed as being capable of reaching the United States, the Associated Press reported.
North Korea’s recent maneuvers generated growing concerns after U.S. intelligence determined that missile launches on Feb. 26 and March 4 of this year involved a relatively new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system. As a result, it is likely to have the potential to reach the U.S.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement Thursday that this is the first time North Korea has tried to conduct staged maneuvers in a covert manner, so he warned that a future launch could be planned to be “full range,” but “potentially disguised as a space launch.”
However, North Korea denies this and claims that they were carried out to test cameras for a future spy satellite.
The Pentagon announced that all U.S. security and missile reconnaissance forces in the Pacific had been placed in a state of “enhanced readiness,” tracking possible North Korean movements.
Meanwhile, Biden has expressed his willingness to meet with the North Korean regime’s leader, Kim Jong-un, if denuclearization is on the negotiating table.
Several UN Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from firing ICBMs. For these new maneuvers that defy the bans, the U.S. will announce on Friday new sanctions aimed at preventing the North Koreans from accessing new technologies that would allow them to develop such missiles, according to an unnamed official.
North Korea conducted three intercontinental ballistic missile tests in 2017 and has conducted six nuclear tests before suspending both types of trials ahead of summits with Trump in 2019.
However, in January, Pyongyang said it would reconsider restarting all temporarily suspended activities and has vowed to expand further its nuclear arsenal, which it sees as its greatest guarantee of survival.