The isolated nation in recent weeks stepped up its weapons tests, including the test of supposed hypersonic weapons such as glide vehicles. The Biden administration hit five North Korean officials with sanctions in relation to the tests.
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, waves from a balcony toward the assembled troops and spectators during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP) (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP))
The sixth meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee convened this week, with party General Secretary Kim Jong Un in attendance. The Politburo discussed a number of “confidence-building measures,” one of which may be to backtrack on a self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles in response to the sanctions.
“He’s not saying all bets are off, but it’s a strong indicator that they’re moving” towards testing again, Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told NK News.
This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says a test launch of a hypersonic missile on Jan. 11, 2022 in North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: “KCNA” which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
KCNA Watch translated state media reports that the Politburo discussed how the U.S. “viciously slurred” North Korea and “committed the foolish act of taking over 20 independent sanctions measures.”
North Korean officials claimed that the U.S. “reached a danger line that cannot be overlooked anymore” and that the nation must consider “practical action” to defend its “dignity, sovereign rights and interests.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, poses for a group photo with fighter pilots who made the demonstration flight at the opening of an exhibition of weapons systems in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP) (AP)
The U.S. hit individuals in Russia and China with sanctions for their roles in providing equipment and helping to develop technology for the recently tested hypersonic weapons.
The sanctions will freeze any assets the five officials maintain in U.S. jurisdictions and bar any American from conducting business with them. Any foreign company or individual who conducts business with the officials may also face penalties.
“The DPRK’s latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization,” said Treasury’s chief of terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson.
North Korea previously agreed to a number of concessions during the Trump administration, including a statement on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how that would occur.
Kim unilaterally suspended nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests during discussions with Washington and Seoul, but continued a series of short-range missile tests during that time.
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.