Mr Biden said: “We are consulting with our allies and partners, and there will be responses. If they choose to escalate, we will respond accordingly.” But he added: “I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearisation.” Mr Biden told a press conference that he regards Pyongyang’s nuclear and military proliferation as his most pressing foreign policy.
North Korea’s firing of two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan yesterday followed the launch of two non-ballistic missiles into the Yellow Sea on Sunday.
While Pyongyang is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions, Mr Biden had played down the earlier dispatch as “business as usual”.
But analysts warned that the secretive Communist power has been increasing its weaponry to pose new threats and hold greater bargaining power.
Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said America must resurrect decommissioning talks.
He said: “Every day without a deal that tries to reduce the risks posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile arsenal is a day it gets bigger and badder.”
Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, said yesterday’s launches threatened his country’s “peace and safety”.
He said Tokyo would closely coordinate with Washington and Seoul.
South Korea chiefs said its military was working with America to analyse the launches timed at around 7.06am and 7.25am local time.
Nuclear negotiations between the US and North Korea stalled after the collapse of Kim’s second summit with Trump two years ago.
Then, US officials rejected North Korean demands for reduced economic sanctions in exchange for a partial surrender of nuclear capabilities.
Pyongyang has refused to hold talks with Mr Biden unless Washington abandons “hostile” sanctions and pressure over its nuclear programme.
Last week, Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, attacked the recent US military exercises with South Korea, telling Washington it should “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace”.
Meanwhile, Mr Biden said it is his “expectation” that he will run for reelection in 2024.
The 78-year-old is already the oldest president to hold office. He would be 82 at the start of a second term.