Updated May 21, 2022 - World

U.S., South Korea to consider expanded military exercises

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and President Biden arriving in Seoul on May 21.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and President Biden arriving in Seoul on May 21. Photo: Lee Jin-Man/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden and South Korea's new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, signaled Saturday that they will consider enlarged joint military exercises to deter North Korea, which is seeking to expand its nuclear arsenal, AP reports.

Why it matters: North Korea has conducted at least 16 missile launches so far in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile test since 2017. U.S. officials have also warned that Pyongyang may be on the verge of resuming nuclear weapons tests.

What they're saying: During a press conference after a meeting with Yoon, Biden said the U.S. and South Korea's economic and military relationship shows “our readiness to take on all threats together," according to AP.

  • Yoon, who was sworn into office last week, said the alliance “was forged in blood on the battlefield of the Korean War." He stressed the partnership would go beyond addressing security concerns and encompass more technological and industrial agreements.

The big picture: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Wednesday that North Korea may conduct a long-range missile or nuclear weapon test during Biden's visit to South Korea, which is a part of his multi-day trip around Asia.

  • U.S. officials have warned that Kim Jong Un’s government has been making preparations at North Korea's underground Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The activity indicates North Korea may be on the verge of resuming underground nuclear weapons testing.
  • Despite heightened tensions from its missile tests and nuclear test preparations, Biden again offered North Korea coronavirus vaccines to help the country control a massive outbreak.

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