April 12, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned North Korea on Friday it would be a “huge mistake” to launch a medium-range missile and said the United States would never accept the reclusive country as a nuclear power.
Addressing reporters after talks with South Korea’s president and leaders of the 28,000-strong U.S. military contingent in the country, Kerry also said it was up to China, North Korea’s sole major ally, to “put some teeth” in efforts to press Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Kerry, like other U.S. officials, played down an assessment from the Pentagon’s intelligence agency that the North already had a nuclear missile capacity.
The United States, he said, wanted to resume talks about North Korea’s earlier pledges to halt its nuclear programme, but would defend its allies in the region if necessary.
North Korea has repeatedly said it will not abandon nuclear weapons which it said on Friday were its “treasured” guarantor of security.
Kerry’s visit coincided with preparations for Monday’s anniversary of North Korean state founder Kim Il-Sung’s birth date, a possible pretext for a show of strength, with speculation focusing on a possible new missile launch.
Kerry, who flies to China on Saturday and to Japan on Sunday, said that if North Korea’s 30-year-old leader, Kim Jong-un, proceeded with a launch, “he will be choosing, willfully, to ignore the entire international community”.
“I would say ahead of time that it is a huge mistake for him to choose to do that because it will further isolate his country and further isolate his people, who frankly are desperate for food, not missile launches.”