The US and North Korea remain on a collision course after President Joe Biden renewed sanctions against Pyongyang. As a result, North Korea warned it might take “fiercer” military action.

North Korea said in a statement on Monday that it had issued a warning in response to trilateral talks between the US, South Korea, and Japan during the weekend ASEAN summit. During the meeting, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed a commitment to extend deterrence and defend South Korea and Japan with a “full range of capabilities,” including nuclear weapons.

North Korea on Thursday tested a ballistic missile, warning the United States of a “fiercer military counteraction” in response to Washington’s strengthened defense ties with South Korea and Japan, which are at their highest level in decades.

Choe Son-hui
Choe Son-hui (Source: U.S. Department of State/Wikimedia)

Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s foreign minister, said in a statement released by the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that America’s attempt to strengthen extended deterrence to its allies in the region “is gambling for which it will certainly regret.” Choe also warns that the more dominant US presence becomes in the region, “the fiercer (North Korean) military counteraction will be, in direct proportion to it.”

According to the KCNA statement, the warning was in response to a trilateral meeting between the US, South Korea, and Japan during Sunday’s ASEAN summit. US President Joe Biden guaranteed a “full range of capabilities,” including nuclear weapons, to reinforce extended deterrence and protect South Korea and Japan at the meeting.

Some experts believe that North Korea is capable of producing nuclear missiles. A report from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) states, “Despite the uncertainty about the number and ability to deliver a functioning nuclear warhead to the United States, some experts at the time asserted that North Korea could do just that.”

“North Korea operates several distinct types of liquid-fueled missiles belonging to the Scud missile family. The Hwasong-5 and Hwasong-6 SRBMs are the North Korean versions of Russian-built Scud B and Scud C missiles, respectively. The US Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center lists the missiles’ ranges at 300 and 500 kilometers (186 and 311 miles), respectively, and estimates that North Korea has fewer than 100 launchers for the combined Hwasong-5 and -6 arsenal (National Air and Space Intelligence Center 2020, 21).”

“Thus far, neither South Korea nor the United States has confirmed whether or not North Korea has successfully produced a nuclear missile. However, both countries are taking measures to defend themselves against potential attacks.”