With President Biden due in South Korea and Japan in the coming days for some important summits, a topic high on the agenda will no doubt be North Korea.
The regime's been preparing for a nuclear test, and could even conduct a missile test while one or more of these summits are going on.
The North right now is also dealing with its first reported major outbreak of COVID-19, though, which could complicate some of its plans.
To find out more about these summits, their implications for security in the region, and what North Korea might do, we are pleased to welcome tonight here in the studio Dr. Go Myong-hyun of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and via Skype in Washington, DC, Dr. Patrick Cronin Chair for Asia-Pacific Security at the Hudson Institute.
1) (GO) President Yoon will be meeting this Saturday with President Biden. We know they'll be looking to shore up supply chains, but of course, North Korea will be high on the agenda. What are the specific North Korea issues they'll be discussing and what outcomes does each side want?
2) (CRONIN) Biden will continue his diplomacy in the Japan with the Quad Summit, and also the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. With so much going on, and the U.S. President himself in the region, North Korea must see some opportunity to get some attention. Reports say there could be an ICBM launch. How will the North look to capitalize on this situation?
3) (CRONIN) South Korea has been looking to take part in the Quad in some capacity. It's also now decided to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Frameowkr. At the same time, China's foreign minister told his South Korean counterpart this week that Seoul needs to resist this decoupling from China. To what degree is South Korea right now feeling the squeeze between its biggest trading partner and closest ally?
4) (GO) How do you see the two Koreas, the North in particular, figuring into the diplomacy going on in these coming days, and how will it be maneuvering?
5) (CRONIN) North Korea is widely believed to be preparing for a nuclear test in the coming weeks. The State Department has said it does not expect the outbreak of COVID-19 to affect those plans. South Korea doesn't expect it to happen while Biden is here, at least. Still, COVID is an emergency for the regime. Do you see the virus affecting plans for a nuclear or missile test?
6) (GO) In the event of another nuclear test, how can the international community respond? The North is under heavy sanctions already, so are there still tools available to deter the regime from this kind of behavior?
7) (CRONIN) North Korea has not responded to contact from South Korea about providing medical aid to help it deal with COVID-19. Why is that? We know they're in talks with Russia and China. Do they expect to get what they need from just those two?
8) (GO) North Korea is surely watching the situation in Ukraine closely. Things there, it's widely understood, are not going as well for Russia as it might've hoped. What lessons could North Korea drawing from that war?
9) (CRONIN) What do you see as the takeaways for North Korea as it watches the Ukraine war?