North Korea plans to ‘deal a blow’ to Biden – Seoul’s ex-spy chief

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Pyongyang wants to carry out a nuclear missile test in the run-up to the US midterm elections, South Korea’s former top spy has claimed

Pyongyang will time its next nuclear missile test to come ahead of the upcoming US midterm elections, Park Jie-won, the former head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), has claimed.

“They are going to do it in order to demonstrate a threat that [their] missile can fly to the US, carrying a miniaturized and lighter warhead, and to deal a blow to the Joe Biden administration ahead of the midterm election,” Park, who led the NIS between 2020 and May 2022, told KBS Radio on Monday.

Park added that “there will be some kind of North Korean provocations during the US-South Korea military exercises that start today.” 

“Kim Jong-un is not going to overlook it as if nothing happened,” he said.

The US and South Korea kicked off the 11-day Ulchi Freedom Shield field exercise on Monday. Pyongyang routinely protests such joint drills, which it considers a security threat.

Moscow also warned about a possible escalation. “Washington is prepared to deploy strategic forces near the Korean Peninsula if the North Koreans conduct a new nuclear weapons test,” Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev said, adding that it would “lead to a further degradation of the situation in the region.” 

The South Korean Defense Ministry reported that Pyongyang launched two cruise missiles off the west coast of North Korea last Wednesday, which was the first such weapons test in more than two months. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un said late last month that the country was ready to “mobilize” its nuclear arsenal for any potential clash with the US and South Korea.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday that Washington would continue to work with South Korea and Japan to ensure that Pyongyang is “held accountable for its continued provocations.” 

Talks between the US and North Korea on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula effectively stalled in 2019.

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