May 22, 2022 - World

Biden says he's "not concerned" about potential North Korea weapons tests

Biden boarding AF1

Joe Biden waves as he departs for Japan from Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek on May 22. Photo: Kim Hong-Ji/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told reporters in South Korea on Sunday that he is "not concerned" about potential weapons tests from North Korea, according to a White House pool report.

Why it matters: U.S. officials have warned that North Korea may be on the cusp of resuming nuclear weapons tests.

  • White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan last week warned that North Korea could conduct a long-range missile or nuclear weapon test during Biden's visit to South Korea, part of the president's multi-day trip around Asia.

What they're saying: “We are prepared for anything North Korea does,” Biden told reporters.

  • Asked if he had a message for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Biden replied, "hello....period."

The big picture: Sullivan addressed the potential threat from North Korea while briefing reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday as the delegation traveled from South Korea to Tokyo.

  • Sullivan declined to speculate as to why a test hadn't occurred during Biden's time in South Korea, but added, "we were prepared for any contingency while we were in Korea, we’re prepared for any contingency while we’re in Japan."
  • "And if North Korea acts, we’ll be prepared to respond. If North Korea doesn’t act, North Korea has the opportunity, as we’ve said repeatedly, to come to the table and start negotiating," he added.
  • Sullivan emphasized that a nuclear weapons test from North Korea could still be imminent.
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