To say that global and regional threats from North Korea have gone from bad to worse would be a gross understatement, given an upcoming Vladimir Putin/Kim Jong Un summit meeting and a recent North Korean simulated nuclear attack.
What’s particularly striking is how far and how fast the North Korea situation has deteriorated since Joe Biden became president.
Tensions with North Korea surged in 2022 after it tested a record number of missiles (over 75) and began preparations for a seventh nuclear test.
North Korea also issued a statement in September 2022 that its nuclear weapons program is "is irreversible," that there will be no more negotiations on denuclearization, and that it could use nuclear weapons preemptively in response to a non-nuclear attack.
North Korea has test-launched at least 20 missiles in 2023, including its first solid-fueled ICBM, a missile that can be launched quickly and will be difficult to intercept.
In March 2023, North Korea released a photo of what it claimed was a tactical nuclear weapon.
On Sept. 3, 2023, North Korea said it simulated a nuclear missile attack with cruise missiles equipped with mock nuclear warheads.
Meanwhile, as tension between the U.S. and North Korea grew over the last two years, Pyongyang developed a closer relationship with Russia and China, one that could become a military alliance.
In May 2022, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution sponsored by the United States on North Korea’s missile tests; the first time a Security Council resolution on North Korea was vetoed since 1983.
By comparison, six UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea passed during the Trump administration with Russian and Chinese support.
Last September, the Biden administration said declassified intelligence indicated Russia was buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea to support its invasion of Ukraine.
In late July 2023, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese Politburo member Li Hongzhong met with Kim in Pyongyang and attended a large military parade with the North Korean leader.
Over the last week, security threats from North Korea reached an even more dangerous level with an announcement that Kim Jong Un will meet with Putin in Vladivostok this month to discuss increasing North Korean arms transfers to Russia and reports that Russia has proposed joint naval exercises with China and North Korea.
The Kim/Putin summit reportedly will discuss North Korea providing Russia with artillery shells and anti-tank missiles for its use in the Ukraine War in exchange for food aid.
The meeting reportedly will take place between Sept. 10 and 13.
Kim also may travel to Moscow for a second meeting with Putin.
All of this has happened in the first two and a half years of the Biden presidency.
How did the threat from North Korea become so serious so quickly?
President Trump’s personal diplomacy with Kim Jong Un left President Biden a stable relationship with North Korea when he assumed office in January 2021.
Although this diplomacy did not succeed in denuclearizing North Korea or normalizing relations, it significantly lowered tensions and led to a suspension of the North’s nuclear and long-range missile tests.
Mr. Biden rejected his predecessor’s North Korea policy and decided to ignore the country at the start of his presidency.
Biden named a part-time North Korea envoy.
He dismissed the idea of a Biden/Kim summit, and senior administration officials made no effort to meet with their North Korean counterparts or travel to North Korea.
There were almost no references to North Korea in President Biden’s National Security Strategy or his two speeches to the UN General Assembly.
Being snubbed by President Biden and the perception of American weakness after the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan appeared to lead North Korea to ramp up its missile tests in the fall of 2021 with test launches of three advanced short-range ballistic missiles, a submarine-launched ballistic missile, a long-range cruise missile, and a possible hypersonic missile.
After an unprecedented surge in North Korean missile tests in 2022 and reports that it could test a nuclear weapon, South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol stated in January of 2023 that South Korea may need to develop its own nuclear weapons or demand the U.S. redeploy its nuclear weapons to South Korea.
Yoon’s statement shocked the Biden administration and caused a mad rush to reassure Yoon of America’s alliance with South Korea.
In March, the Biden administration dispatched former Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless to South Korea to discuss this situation with Yoon and dissuade him from the idea of South Korea developing its own nuclear arsenal.
In addition, a Biden/Yoon summit at the White House and a state visit were hastily arranged and held in April.
President Biden agreed to a greater U.S. commitment to defend South Korea and extended U.S. nuclear deterrence at the summit.
On July 16, 2023, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan signaled a major shift in the Biden administration’s North Korea policy when he said Biden officials were willing to negotiate with North Korea "without preconditions" about its nuclear program.
This was the first such statement by the Biden administration.
Also in response to the worsening North Korean situation, President Biden hosted a summit at Camp David on Aug. 18 with South Korean President Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
This was a significant diplomatic achievement for Biden because the summit succeeded in getting Japan and South Korea to move past their historical grievances and take a major step toward establishing a trilateral security alliance with the United States.
There was a shadow over the summit, however, because it occurred in response to the surge in tensions with North Korea caused by Biden’s poor leadership and not due to the diplomatic skills of Biden administration officials.
The surge in tensions with North Korea is another sign of how global security is unraveling due to Biden's incompetent national security policies.
Although the Biden administration has raced to reverse this with summits with South Korea and Japan and offering to meet with North Korean officials, it will be very difficult to counter policies that deliberately ignored and snubbed North Korea for two and a half years.
China and Russia, whose relations with the U.S. also plummeted during the Biden presidency, realize this and have moved aggressively to exploit the soured U.S.-North Korea relationship.
Given North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile programs, its arms shipments to Russia for the Ukraine War, increasing Chinese provocations in the Asia-Pacific, and North Korea’s close relationship with Iran, a new North Korea/Russia/China military alliance caused by President Biden’s national security malpractice will have profound global security implications.
(Related articles may be found here, here, and here.)
Fred Fleitz is Vice Chair of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for American Security and a Newsmax TV Contributor. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst, and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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