The United States is coordinating with South Korea to respond to a number of scenarios from North Korea, including the possibility of North Korea’s using nuclear weapons, the White House said on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told their governments to plan an “effective, coordinated response to a range of scenarios, including nuclear use by North Korea,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Jean-Pierre said at her briefing. But, she added: “We’re not discussing joint nuclear exercises,” noting that South Korea is a state without nuclear weapons.
Jean-Pierre’s remarks followed apparently contradicting accounts from Biden and his South Korean counterpart this week. Yoon was quoted in a newspaper interview published on Monday as saying the two governments were discussing joint nuclear exercises; speaking to reporters later on Monday, Biden denied any such activity, Reuters reported.
“The United States is fully committed to our alliance with the ROK, and providing extended deterrence through the full range of U.S. defense capabilities,” Jean-Pierre said of the Republic of Korea on Tuesday.
North Korean state media reported on Sunday that the nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has planned an expansion of his nuclear arsenal, following a series of nuclear tests last year. Last month, South Korea’s Defense Ministry warned that any attempt to use nuclear weapons by North Korea “will lead to the end of the Kim Jong Un government.” The U.S. military has previously made similar warnings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.