August 17, 2022

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile and is ignoring President Biden’s attempts to get in touch, the White House said Thursday.

Biden is “open to meeting” Kim at some point, but the Pyongyang government “continues to not respond,” a senior US official told reporters on a conference call.

“After careful analysis, the US government has concluded that the DPRK’s two ballistic missile tests on February 26 and March 4 of this year, involved a relatively new intercontinental ballistic missile system that the DPRK is developing,” the official added, using the acronym of North Korea’s official name.

“Unlike the DPRK’s three ICBM tests in 2017, neither of these launches demonstrated ICBM range or capability,” they went on. “These launches are likely intended to test elements of this new system before the DPRK conducts a launch in full range, which they will potentially attempt to disguise as a space launch.”

The official noted that “unlike its past tests, the DPRK tried to hide these escalatory steps.”

The White House warned North Korea is likely preparing to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile system.
KCNA/via REUTERS

Former President Donald Trump met three times in-person with the hereditary communist dictator — in Singapore in 2018, in Vietnam in 2019 and at Korea’s demilitarized zone later that year.

Although Trump’s outreach with Kim cooled tensions between the US and North Korea, it didn’t result in any agreement for Kim to give up its nuclear weapons, which increasingly advanced missile technology could deliver to US territory.

Trump received criticism for saying in 2018 that Kim “wrote me beautiful letters” and “we fell in love” — in a pivot toward warmer relations after threatening the North Korean leader in 2017 with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” after North Korea appeared to threaten Guam.

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It’s unclear why Kim has ignored Biden’s efforts at a sitdown.

“We are prepared to meet without preconditions,” the Biden administration official said Thursday.

“President Biden himself has previously made clear that he is open to meeting with Kim Jong Un when there is a serious agreement on the table, which would need to be based on working-level negotiations,” the official added. “Because as we saw in the past administration, leader-level summits alone are no guarantee of progress. The DPRK continues to not respond.”

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un
President Biden is open to meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
REUTERS/KCNA

The Treasury Department will announce new sanctions Friday to limit North Korea’s access to technology, the official said.

The warning of a potential North Korean missile launch follows the Biden administration’s ultimately accurate public claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing to invade Ukraine. Trump, for his part, claimed Putin invaded Ukraine because Biden is “weak.”

Biden is facing political pressure for blocking Poland from giving 28 fighter jets to Ukraine via the US to fight off Russia and on three occasions so far has caved to bipartisan demands to enact harsher sanctions to target Putin’s personal wealth, disconnect Russia from the SWIFT international banking system and ban Russian oil imports.