(Update 1: Adds allies’ air maneuvers, minor edits)
Seoul, Jun 7 (EFE).- The United States’ deputy secretary of state on Tuesday warned North Korea of a “rapid and forceful” response if it went ahead with an anticipated nuclear test.
Wendy Sherman spoke after a meeting in Seoul with her South Korean counterpart Cho Hyun-dong with whom she discussed Pyongyang’s latest weapons tests.
“Any nuclear tests would be in complete violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Sherman said, according to Yonhap news agency. “There would be a swift and forceful response to such a test.”
Washington and Seoul also conducted joint maneuvers Tuesday with fighter jets over the Sea of Japan in response to the missile launches by the North Korean regime over the weekend, the South Korean defense ministry told EFE.
The drills included South Korea’s fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters, which tend to elicit the strongest protests from North Korea, as well as F-15s and F-16s, while the US provided F-16s, a defense ministry spokesperson said.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the allies “demonstrated their strong capabilities to rapidly and accurately strike in the event of any North Korean provocations, as well as their will to do so,” according to Yonhap.
Some 20 aircraft participated in the exercises, which were held a day after the allies fired eight surface-to-surface missiles from an Army Tactical Missile System into the Sea of Japan in response to the eight short-range ballistic missiles that North Korea launched the previous day.
It is the second time that the allies have responded in this way to a North Korean missile test since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office on May 10.
Seoul’s new government under conservative president Yoon advocates for hardening its stance against its neighbor after a more conciliatory stance taken by his predecessor, and has said that it will respond accordingly to North Korean actions of this kind.
During his visit to Seoul in late May, US President Joe Biden promised Yoon that the US will tighten its deterrent stance on the peninsula based on the actions of the North Korean regime.
Since the beginning of the year, satellites have captured preparations at the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in the northeast of the country, for what is believed to be a new nuclear test.
Sherman also reiterated the Biden administration’s desire to resume unconditional dialogue on denuclearization with North Korea, which has been stalled since 2019.
“The United States harbors no hostile intent towards the DPRK. We continue to urge Pyongyang to cease its destabilizing and provocative activities and choose the path of diplomacy,” she said.
In 2021, North Korea approved a five-year arms modernization plan that is behind the record number of missile launches this year. EFE