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On Sunday, the United States made a direct call on North Korea to join direct talks without preconditions on its nuclear and missile programs, after Pyongyang sent a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile into space.

“We think it’s completely appropriate and completely right to start having some serious discussions,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters.

Under Joe Biden, the US has repeatedly sought talks with North Korea, but has been rebuffed. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has held three summits with Donald Trump, but the talks failed to address Kim’s demand to lift sanctions.

The Biden official said the latest North Korean test was part of an “increasingly destabilizing” pattern and in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and thus international law.

The official spoke after North Korea conducted its largest missile test since 2017. The launch was seen as a step closer to resuming long-range tests. The US official said “of course we are concerned” that Pyongyang might do so and end a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing.

“It requires an answer,” he said. “You will see us taking some steps that are designed to show our commitment to our allies…while at the same time reiterating our call for diplomacy. We are ready and we are very serious about trying to have discussions that address the concerns of both sides.”

The missile fired on Sunday appeared to be the most powerful since Biden took office, as Pyongyang revives its brinkmanship playbook for concessions.

The Japanese and South Korean militaries said the missile was launched on a high trajectory, apparently to avoid the neighbors’ territorial spaces, and reached a maximum altitude of 2,000 km (1,242 miles) and traveled 800 km (497 miles) before to land in the sea.

Flight details suggest the longest-range missile since 2017, when North Korea twice flew ballistic missiles over Japan and separately three that showed potential to reach deep into the US. North Korea has launched this seven times. month.

Kim has shown no willingness to hand over nuclear weapons and missiles. Analysts say their goal is to force Washington to accept the North as a nuclear power and turn nuclear disarmament diplomacy for aid into mutual arms reduction negotiations.

In his strongest comments in years, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the situation was beginning to resemble 2017, when there was an exchange of war threats between Kim and Trump.

Moon said North Korea’s moves were a “challenge to the international community’s efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, stabilize peace and find a diplomatic solution.”

The North “must stop its actions that create tensions and pressures and respond to offers of dialogue from the international community, including South Korea and the United States,” Moon said.

Experts say the North could halt its wave of tests for the Beijing Winter Olympics next week, out of respect for China, its economic lifeline. But there is also the expectation that he could up the ante significantly once the Games are over, to capture the attention of the US, which has focused on China and Russia.

“North Korea is launching a missile frenzy ahead of the start of the Beijing Olympics, mainly as military modernization efforts,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “Pyongyang also wants to boost national pride as it prepares to celebrate political anniversaries against the backdrop of economic struggles.

“He wants to remind Washington and Seoul that trying to topple him would be too costly. By threatening stability in Asia while global resources are depleted elsewhere, Pyongyang is demanding that the world compensate it to act as a ‘responsible nuclear power.’”

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington had imposed sanctions and was looking at other options.

“We are open to having diplomatic discussions. We have offered this time and again to the DPRK. And they haven’t accepted it,” Thomas-Greenfield told ABC. “Our goal is to put an end to the threatening actions that [North Korea] he is taking against his neighbors.”

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