May 23, 2022: -On Friday, North Korea could launch an intercontinental missile test or even a nuclear test to overshadow U.S. President Joe Biden’s the future visit to South Korea, an expert told CNBC.
“They’ve done two intercontinental ballistic missile tests earlier this year. We’ve been seeing tunneling activity which prepares for a nuclear test,” Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told CNBC.
He further said that such a test would “overshadow” Biden’s trip.
The White House has been bracing itself for such a move by North Korea during Asia’s visit as president.
“Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility there will be either a missile test or a nuclear test,” U.S. national security advisor On Wednesday Jake Sullivan told reporters a day before Biden departed for Asia.
On Friday, Biden is arriving in Seoul to visit South Korea and will travel to Tokyo, Japan.
He attends a Quad summit hosted by Japan, where leaders of the four-nation Quadrilateral Security Dialogue are meeting. It is a strategic grouping of the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India to counter China’s looming military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
The Heritage Foundation’s Klingner said while the U.S. would like to talk to Pyongyang on a range of issues, which include denuclearization, North Korea was unwilling to engage with either the U.S. or South Korea.
“They may choose to make during Biden’s trip to divert attention away from the objectives in both countries,” he said, adding it’s also calculated to try to force Biden to respond to the North Korean action.
Klingner, a former CIA officer, said that a test by North Korea would be an attempt to signal that the isolated country is “strong” despite recent reports that it is battling its first reported Covid-19 outbreak.
He also said South Korea would forge a closer relationship with the U.S. under newly elected President Yoon Seok-your. A strong alliance with Washington will form “the foundation” of his relationship with other countries such as North Korea, China, and Japan.
“Yoon has said that he’s aligned with the U.S. and that strategic ambiguity is dead,” Klingner said.