Washington insists on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and will never accept Pyongyang as a nuclear weapons state, the State Department said. The US also repeated warnings that North Korea would soon test a nuclear weapon.
Asked if the United States would “eventually recognize North Korea as a nuclear state” during a Monday presser, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters “That is not our policy. I do not foresee that ever becoming our policy.”
“The complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been our objective since the conclusion of our DPRK policy review last year,” Price continued. “That has not changed. I don’t foresee that changing going forward.”
Across several administrations, Washington has ordered Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons time and again since the country detonated its first warhead in 2006. After more than a decade of fruitless demands, then-President Donald Trump made diplomatic headway following multiple rounds of negotiations in 2018, with North Korea agreeing to a pause on missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a similar moratorium on US-South Korean war games.
However, that deal was upended just one year later, after Trump resumed demands for complete denuclearization, driving North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un to abandon the talks.
In September, Kim signed a new decree codifying North Korea’s nuclear weapons doctrine, declaring it would not give up its arsenal unless the rest of the world did the same, while also urging the United States to end its aggressive policies.
Though Washington claims it desires a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, it has repeatedly vowed to defend South Korea and Japan with its own atomic arsenal, keeping large swaths of the region under the US ‘nuclear umbrella.’ Under those conditions, Pyongyang has been unwilling to entertain talks with the Joe Biden administration, which has also continued – and in some cases escalated – provocative joint military drills with Seoul.
The latest round of war games kicked off this week, seeing American and South Korean warplanes take part in their largest-ever aerial drills, following several major joint exercises in the weeks prior, some also involving Tokyo.
Amid the escalating military activity, Pyongyang has carried out a record number of weapons tests in 2022, including one drill involving preparations to deploy a tactical nuclear missile. While Price warned that North Korea’s next step could be to test a nuclear weapon, Western officials have repeated that claim for several months and no test has materialized.