US President Joe Biden said today that he was not worried about the possibility of North Korea conducting a nuclear test while in Asia, according to Bloomberg.
“We are prepared for anything North Korea does,” Biden told reporters in Seoul. “We have thought about how we will respond to whatever they do, so I’m not worried.”
US intelligence has said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile or conduct a nuclear test to coincide with Biden’s trip to the region. It would be Pyongyang’s first nuclear test since 2017.
Biden is traveling to Japan today after three days in South Korea, during which his team chose not to visit the DMZ, the heavily fortified demilitarized zone separating the country from North Korea.
Before leaving, he met with members of the US and Korean Armed Forces at Osan Air Base, seeking to send a message of common strength to opponents.
In front of a large DMZ map, Biden thanked the Korean forces “covering our backs, just like ours.” “You are the first line, right here in this room,” he said.
Biden said Saturday that he would consider talks with Kim only if he was convinced the North Korean leader was ready to meet in good faith.
“Whether I would meet the North Korean leader would depend on whether she was sincere and serious,” Biden told reporters after meeting with South Korean President Yoon Sook-yol on Saturday.
Asked what his message was to Kim, Biden said he was just “hello” and had nothing else to add.
So far, North Korea has rejected the Biden government’s demands for unconditional talks. In February, a government official then ruled out a meeting between Kim and Biden, saying it should have a clear purpose.
The prospects for a meeting remain dim. Aside from Biden’s high bar on Saturday, Pyongyang has shown no willingness to engage in substantive discussions, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Thursday.
Biden and Yoon agreed on Saturday to begin talks on expanding joint military exercises to address the threat posed by North Korea.