"About North Korea and the firing of the rockets, what have you learned?"
"We have learned that there's nothing much has changed."
That's U.S. President Joe Biden on North Korea after news broke that Peyongyang had fired two short-range missiles this past weekend.
President Biden, when asked if the test was a provocation later in day, said no, it's businesses as usual - there's no new wrinkle in what they did.
This and all that's been happening in and around North Korea. Let's talk about it on Reading Between N. Korean Lines with Dr. Go Myong-hyun.
Dr. Go, good to see you again.
Dr. Go, so we're learning three days later that the North had fired short range missile - that's just days after his sister threatened the U.S. and South Korea for holding joint military exercises.
I don't think any of us were taken aback by this as experts like yourself have been betting on some sort of a provocation by Pyeongyang within weeks of President Biden's inauguration.
The first one in 11 months, the first since Biden took office short-ranged that apparently are not in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. I want your take on this.
As we saw at the top of the segment, President Biden downplayed the latest activity by North Korea - one senior official apparently told a member of the press it was "normal" testing and warned against "hyping" it up. Both South Korea and the White House only confirmed the missile test days after when the Washington Post broke the news. I'm sure there was some sort of an agreement between Seoul and Washington on this. Why is this the case?
Do you expect this to impact the Biden administration's North Korea policy as it completes the review?
The missile tests also come as North Korea apparently ignored offers from the Biden administration to resume negotiations, and just yesterday, China's foreign ministry called for eased sanctions for North Korea after their leaders exchanged verbal messages cementing unity and cooperation.
Chinese President Xi said Beijing wants to make "new, positive contributions" to the stability of the Korean Peninsula. What does he mean by this? To me, that doesn't sound like China will pitch in to denuclearize North Korea. Are we seeing a united anti-U.S. anti-West front being created here?
Upon the Biden administration's strong push to contain China with the backing of its Asian and Western allies, traditional communist allies are moving quickly to reconsolidate their relations. The FMs of China and Russia held talks just a few days after US-China high level talks ended without a statement, and accused the US of political interference saying the US is undermining the "international legal architecture". Are we facing a new cold war, and how would the rising tensions impact President Moon’s peace process?
Meanwhile, South Korea declined to co-sponsor a UN resolution on North Korea's human rights violations for the third straight year. With the Biden administration's clear focus on North Korea's human rights abuses, would this negatively impact Seoul-Washington cooperation in dealing with the North?
Heightening US-China tensions and ensuing reconsolidation of the cold war allies leave little room to South Korea with its diplomatic tactics. In your perspective, what would be a smart strategy for Seoul to balance its relations with the two superpowers, while seeking peaceful denuclearization of North Korea?
Go Myong-hyun, our senior North Korea analyst many thanks as always for your insights. We appreciate it.