US, S.Korea warn of swift reply if N.Korea conducts nuclear test

WASHINGTON - The United States and South Korea warned Tuesday of a swift response if North Korea conducts a nuclear test, including US military “adjustments,” but again offered talks as a way out.

The two allies say that North Korea could at any time test its first nuclear weapon since 2017, after months of escalating tensions including missile tests and Pyongyang’s rebuffing of overtures from President Joe Biden’s administration.

Meeting his South Korean counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States was working with allies in Tokyo and Seoul “to be able to respond quickly should the North Koreans proceed with such a test.”

“And we are prepared to make both short- and longer-term adjustments to our military posture as appropriate,” he said.

“Until the regime in Pyongyang changes course, we will continue to keep the pressure on.”

But Blinken reiterated the United States has “no hostile intent” toward the North, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “We’ll continue to reach out to the DPRK. We’re committed to pursuing a diplomatic approach,” Blinken said. Both Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said their government was ready to negotiate with Pyongyang “without preconditions.”

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