“It’s up to Kim Jong Un what he decides to do,” Kerry said.
A missile launch, he said, “is not going to change our current position which is very clear: We will defend our allies. We will stand with South Korea and Japan against these threats. And we will defend ourselves.”
Speaking beside Kerry, South Korea’s Yun called for more United Nations action against Pyongyang if it commits another provocation.
He refused to comment specifically on the U.S. intelligence report, saying only that the North has “high nuclear and missile capabilities” but that it is still some time away from a nuclear bomb that is “small, light and diversified.”
Both Yun and Kerry kept the door open for future negotiations with Pyongyang.
But both seemed to suggest that they were unlikely in light of the North’s increasingly bombastic threats, including nuclear strikes on the United States. Most experts say those are unfeasible based on the North’s current capacity and would never be explored seriously because the U.S. response would be overwhelming against a regime focused primarily on survival.
Kerry said any talks with North Korea have to lead toward denuclearization.
They have to be really serious,” Kerry said. “No one is going to talk for the sake of talking and no one is going to play this round-robin game that gets repeated every few years, which is both unnecessary and dangerous.”