Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seems to be fully prepared to engage in North Korean denuclearization, Joseph Yun, former US special representative for North Korea policy, said Thursday.
Yun told the local Jeju Forum that he was surprised to see Biden addressing Koreans in the US as well as here, adding that it was evidence that Biden’s agenda included Korean issues. But Yun did not detail what exactly his message was.
Earlier, Biden sent a contribution to the local wire Yonhap News Agency, the only one sent to any media outlet here, where he said he would strengthen the alliance with South Korea he described as a strong ally. Biden also said he would seek North Korean disarmament.
The message was understood as an effort to weaken the perception that Biden was less invested in an Inter-Korean agenda than his rival Donald Trump, who from time to time has touted his rapport with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Yun said Biden, however, would not go for as many summits as Trump did with Kim. They have met three times since 2018.
Meanwhile, a local North Korean expert said Pyongyang would likely stage a provocation early next year when Seoul and Washington hold their annual joint military drills in March.
“I see little possibility that the North would be sitting idle then,” Lee Jung-chul, who teaches international relations at Soongsil University, told another local forum that the Institute for National Security Strategy hosted Thursday.
A new American president, in the middle of formulating new strategies, would be underprepared to deal with a provoking North Korea eager to capitalize on that opportunity, Lee said, on the assumption that Biden gets voted into the office.
Other experts agreed.
“Biden’s national security team would not be ready until July at the earliest, given their hearings,” Shin Beom-chul, director of the Center for Diplomacy and Security at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told the forum.
“North Korea will likely test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile early next year.”
In October, North Korea revealed a “monster” ICBM larger than the Hwasong-15, the first ICBM it test-fired in 2017, along with an advanced a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
Experts see eye to eye on a potential missile launch soon by Pyongyang, though they are divided over its mastery of advanced missile technology.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org