North Korea confirmed Monday that it test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam — Pyongyang’s most significant weapons launch in years — as Washington plans steps to show its commitment to its Asian allies.
Sunday’s launch could be a prelude to bigger provocations, such as tests of nuclear and long-range missiles that pose a direct threat to the U.S. mainland, as Pyongyang tries to pile more pressure on the Biden administration for sanctions relief or international recognition as a legitimate nuclear state.
U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at convincing the North to abandon its nuclear program largely remains stalled.
“Even if Washington had the bandwidth to pay more attention to the North Korean nuclear issue, Pyongyang would likely continue to refuse direct talks because of the pandemic, keep perfecting its weapons technology and maintain its high price tag for talks,” said Duyeon Kim, an analyst at Washington’s Center for a New American Security.
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