While COVID-19 has killed 63 people and infected nearly two million people in North Korea, the country's supreme leader is preparing for a nuclear test or a long-range missile test, U.S intelligence said.
What Happened: U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Wednesday, in a press briefing, said that North Korea could be planning a nuclear test, a long-range missile test, or both before, during, or after U.S. President Joe Biden's official visit to the neighboring nation South Korea.
"With respect to the issue of North Korea, we have said from this podium, we said at the state department, and we have indicated in quite clear terms that our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility that there will be either a further missile test, including long-range missile test or a nuclear test or frankly both in the days leading into on or after the president's trip to the region," Sullivan said in a press briefing at the White House.
He further added that the U.S. is fully prepared to make any necessary adjustments to U.S. defense posture to ensure the security of the U.S. and its allies.
White House — which earlier said Biden was considering a trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea during his visit to South Korea — said the plans had been put on hold.
Why It Matters: The COVID-19 crisis has rapidly swept through North Korea, with cases rising past the two million mark in the country that has a population of 25 million.
The state media KCNA Watch reported that Kim Un-Jong has ordered to further intensifying the emergency epidemic prevention campaign in the DPRK. The country further claimed that it is taking "scientific, technological and practical measures to steadily adjust in a mobile way."
Meanwhile, North Korea has rejected all outside help in containing the virus despite its fragile economy and unvaccinated population scrambling to slow down the infection.
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