North Korea has not responded to outreach from the Biden administration, according to a Reuters report.
A behind-the-scenes diplomatic push which began in mid-February has so far yielded no response from Pyongyang and raises questions about how President Joe Biden will approach concerns surrounding North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
The US’s top diplomat, Antony Blinken, and defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, are due to make a trip to South Korea and Japan next week, with North Korea’s nuclear capabilities set to be high on the agenda.
Since he came into office in January, Biden has already announced a policy review on North Korea which is expected in April.
The President has previously referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a “thug” and would only meet Kim “on the condition that he would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity.”
A senior Biden official told Reuters there had been efforts to reach out to North Korea “through several channels starting in mid-February, including in New York. To date, we have not received any response from Pyongyang.”
Relations between North Korea and the US have been tense since 2017 when North Korea tested US-reaching long-range missiles.
Tensions eased, however, as President Donald Trump built a rapport with Kim. Following a meeting between the leaders in 2018, Trump said the pair had fallen “in love”.
The relationship between the two men increased hopes that North Korean nuclear disarmament could be possible. However this has thus far failed to materialise.
Following Mr Trump’s unprecedented engagement with Kim, it appears that there has been no contact between the United States and North Korea for more than a year “despite multiple attempts”, and Pyongyang has yet to formally acknowledge Joe Biden’s presidency.
Mr Blinken has suggested the possibility of additional economic sanctions, in coordination with allies, to press North Korea to denuclearise, but sanctions have so far failed to convince Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.
Earlier this month the Pentagon said that “very disturbing” reports of North Korean nuclear activity could be an attempt to get the attention of Biden.
Pyongyang may have undertaken the reprocessing of nuclear fuel for bombs, according to a report delivered by the International Atomic Energy Agency
In a confidential report, Reuters found that North Korea had maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic programs throughout 2020 in violation of international sanctions. It was found that this was funded partially by $300 million stolen through cyber hacks.