Report: Biden Administration Mulls Sharing US Vaccine Supply With North Korea

Thomas Catenacci

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President Joe Biden is reportedly mulling sending some of the U.S. vaccine supply to North Korea and other coronavirus assistance, sources familiar told CNN.

The Biden administration believes that helping North Korea combat the virus with supplies and vaccines will encourage the nation to engage again with the U.S., two sources familiar with internal discussions told CNN. However, officials said if the administration did supply vaccines to North Korea, the U.S. would put measures in place to ensure it uses the vaccines to immunize its citizens.

“While we are open to considering DPRK requests for humanitarian assistance, these would need to be accompanied by effective monitoring to ensure that it reached the intended beneficiaries,” a senior administration official told CNN.

However, the official added that there aren’t any concrete plans in place and North Korea “has refused to cooperate with COVAX and rejected offers of Covid-19 assistance from [South Korea],” according to CNN.

There is additional concern that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wouldn’t accept the vaccine, instead maintaining that his nation has yet to have a single coronavirus case throughout the pandemic, CNN reported. North Korea has reported zero total coronavirus cases and deaths, the World Health Organization database showed.

“It would be a great offer but there is no way that Kim Jong Un would ever accept them,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Vipin Narang told CNN. “There would be paranoia about what would be delivered by the US and there is also the possibility that China could be providing vaccines quietly to North Korean elites.”

The Biden administration has reportedly attempted to continue diplomatic relations with North Korea, but has been repeatedly ignored.

The U.S. remains steadfast in its goal to denuclearize North Korea, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter told reporters last week.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in affirmed that establishing peace with North Korea is a high priority moving forward, Reuters reported. Moon will participate in a White House summit on May 21 with President Joe Biden.

“I will consider the remaining one year of my term to be the last opportunity to move from an incomplete peace toward one that is irreversible,” Moon said on Monday, according to Reuters. “Now, the time for long deliberations is also coming to an end. It is time to take action.”

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