While the Biden administration has vowed to push for additional international sanctions if North Korea goes on with the nuclear test, the prospects for meaningful new punitive measures are unclear with the U.N. Security Council divided.
“Any nuclear test would be in complete violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. There would be a swift and forceful response to such a test,” Sherman said, following a meeting with South Korea Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong.
“We continue to urge Pyongyang to cease its destabilizing and provocative activities and choose the path of diplomacy,” she said.
Sherman and Cho are planning a trilateral meeting with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo on Wednesday over the North Korean nuclear issue.
North Korea’s launches on Sunday extended a provocative streak in weapons tests this year that also included the country’s first demonstrations of ICBMs since 2017.
Since taking power in 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accelerated his weapons development despite limited resources. Experts say with its next test, North Korea could claim an ability to build small bombs that could be clustered on a multiwarhead ICBM or fit on short-range missiles that could reach South Korea and Japan.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday there are indications that one of the passages at the Punggye-ri testing ground has been reopened, possibly in preparations for a nuclear test.