US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman speaks to media after a meeting with South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on June 7, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The US government has threatened North Korea with a “swift and forceful response” if Pyongyang conducts a nuclear test.

“There would be a swift and forceful response to such a test,” US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told a news conference on Tuesday after meeting her South Korean counterpart Cho Hyun-dong in Seoul.

Her remarks were followed by a joint air power demonstration, adding to simmering tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The maneuvers, which involved 20 warplanes including F-35A stealth fighter jets over the West Sea, came a day after Washington and Seoul jointly fired eight surface-to-surface missiles off South Korea’s east coast.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “South Korea and the United States demonstrated their strong ability and determination to quickly and accurately strike any North Korean provocation.”  

US officials accuse Pyongyang of new signs of construction at Punggye-ri, North Korea’s only known nuclear test site and claim that the allies’ joint demonstrations are in response to North Korea’s missile tests.

South Korean intelligence and satellite imagery analysis now claims that North Korea may be ready for a nuclear test, its first since 2017.

Even before his inauguration in May, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol staked out a hard line on North Korea, advocating for US nuclear strategic assets, missile defenses and the preparation of pre-emptive strike capabilities.

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