After a recent clear uptick in provocative North Korean missile launches, itself a response to increased joint US-South Korean military drills on the peninsula, national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said the Biden White House is ready to negotiate with Pyongyang "without preconditions" about its nuclear program.
"We have indicated to North Korea that we're prepared to sit down and talk without preconditions about their nuclear program," Sullivan told "Face the Nation" on Sunday, in comments coming just days after the north test launched an ICBM.
For months, South Korean and Western officials have expressed alarm over what they see as a potential North Korean nuclear test happening soon. But Sullivan in his own fresh remarks said he's not seen "any immediate indications" of this happening imminently.
"But it would not come as a surprise that North Korea moved forward with another nuclear test," he said.
"With respect to its intercontinental ballistic missile capability, this is a capability they began testing several years ago," Sullivan continued. "They have continued to test it. We watch all of those tests very closely to see how it is developing and we could coordinate extremely closely with our allies — with Japan and Korea — to make sure that we are responding in lockstep to this threat."
Sullivan called out China as well, warning of a regional escalation in nuclear build-up activities...
"We've also made clear to China that it is the United States who is ready for diplomacy and North Korea who was not," Sullivan said.
"So from our perspective, China has a role to play here too, given its relationship with North Korea, to indicate to the North Koreans that its continued testing is destabilizing, and, frankly, is in fact only creating circumstances in which the United States our allies and partners have to step up our activities and posture to respond to the threat."
The US, South Korea and Japan hold trilateral missile defense exercise in international waters off the Sea of Japan, just days after North Korea launched new-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)https://t.co/M443hnBAZt— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) July 16, 2023
In recent years, the US and Japan began issuing joint affirmations of common nuclear defense.
A White House statement in April 2021 for example spelled out: "The United States restated its unwavering support for Japan’s defense under the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear."
So given this, Beijing is unlikely to quickly heed Washington's call to rush to be direct mediator with the Kim Jong Un government.