North Korea fires off first missile test since Biden took office

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – North Korea resumed its missile tests over the weekend, the first to occur under the Biden administration, two U.S. officials told NBC News.

Pyongyang fired at least one missile. But officials would not elaborate on what type of missile was launched and the location of the test.

At a briefing on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to comment on the missile launch.

The missile tests come as Pyongyang ignores invitations from Washington to discuss denuclearization and as large-scale joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises on the peninsula resume.

Last week, a top North Korean official said Pyongyang will not respond to numerous invitations to restart nuke talks until the United States drops its “hostile policies.”

“We have already declared our stand that no DPRK-U.S. contact and dialogue of any kind can be possible unless the U.S. rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK,” said first vice minister of Foreign Affairs, Choe Son Hui, according to a statement released by state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday.

The Pentagon, National Security Council and Department of State did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Last week, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a warning to the United States as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin embarked on their first overseas trip under Biden leadership.

The two visited South Korea and Japan in order to shore up alliances and reiterate U.S. commitments and interests in the region.

“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off [gun] powder smell in our land,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement referencing joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises in the region.

“If it [the U.S.] wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she added, according to an English translation.

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
Jorge Silva | Reuters

Later on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration did not have “a direct comment or response.”

Our objective is always going to be focused on diplomacy and denuclearization in North Korea,” she said. “Our focus right now is on working with and coordinating with our partners and allies on a range of issues and including security in the region.”

Under Kim Jong Un, the reclusive state has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile and threatened to send missiles into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.

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