"Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility" of nuclear-capable missile tests or a nuclear weapon test around the time of US President Biden's trip, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says.
The United States believes there is a "genuine possibility" that North Korea could conduct a nuclear test or other saber-rattling while President Joe Biden is on his first trip as president to Asia, a top US official said.
"Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility" of nuclear-capable missile tests or a nuclear weapon test around the time of Biden's trip, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday.
Biden departs on Thursday for a series of summits hosted by US allies South Korea and Japan.
Sullivan said it was possible that North Korea, which has defied UN sanctions in conducting an array of missile tests this year, could use Biden's visit to stage "provocations."
This could mean "further missile tests, long-range missile tests or a nuclear test, or frankly both, in the days leading into, on or after the president's trip to the region," he said.
The White House said Biden would not visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which divides North and South Korea during his visit to South Korea, which begins on Friday, having said last week he was considering such a trip.
The Biden administration is prepared to "make both short and longer-term adjustments to our military posture as necessary to ensure that we are providing both defensive deterrence to our allies in the region and that we're responding."
Sullivan said a potential response was being "closely" coordinated with South Korea and Japan and that he had also spoken about the issue with his Chinese counterpart earlier on Wednesday.
North Korea has conducted repeated missile tests since Biden took office last year, and this year resumed launches of ICBMs for the first time since 2017. After each launch, Washington has urged North Korea to return to dialogue, but to no response.