North Korea is still far from meeting the standards of nuclear weapons, according to United States Secretary of State John Kerry during a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister, Yun Byung-Se.
Sec. Kerry said North Korea is “not even close” to taking steps to lead in terms of its nuclear program.
“To date, to this moment, particularly with recent provocations, it is clear the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is not even close to meeting that standard. Instead it continues to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles,” said Kerry.
Last week, South Korean military experts shared a similar view that North Korea is still two or three years away from developing a missile system or submarine system that could threaten the United States. They made their assessment based on the recent ballistic missile test launching of North Korea from a submarine.
Kerry made his statement following reports that North Korea is expanding its nuclear arsenal. It was reported that North Korea likely have a dozen nuclear weapons, and it could have as much as 20 nuclear bombs by the end of 2016. In 2013, satellite images showed that the communist country doubled the size of its nuclear enrichment facility in Yongbyon.
United States continues to offer deal North Korea
The United States continues to offer deals with North Korea to improve its relationship in exchange for signs of its willingness to truly end its nuclear program.
At present, the United States and United Nations imposed heavy sanctions against North Korea in connection with its nuclear program. North Korea has been conducting underground tests of nuclear weapons, and its latest ballistic missile test from a submarine was considered by South Korea as “very serious and concerning.”
During the joint conference in South Korea, Kerry emphasized that the international community is united in its objective to denuclearize North Korea. He added that the impending nuclear deal with Iran could serve as an example to the North Korean regime.
“We are more determined than ever to find ways to convince Kim Jong Un and North Korea that all they are doing now is isolating themselves further and creating greater risks to the region and their own country,” said Kerry.
United States and China in talks to impose more sanctions against North Korea
According to Kerry, the United States and China are in discussions to increase sanctions against North Korea. He said, “With respect to the methodology for boosting sanctions and other things, we [the United States and China] are discussing all of that now. China has obviously an extraordinary leverage.
Kerry said Washington will discuss specific steps regarding the sanctions against North Korea during the security and economic dialogue with China in June.
Hong Lei, the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of China, reiterated his government’s call for denuclearization in the entire Korean peninsula. He declined to comment on Kerry’s statement regarding the sanctions against North Korea. The Chinese government has a history of resisting tough actions against Pyongyang that were not passed by resolution of the UN Security Council.
North Korea rejected a deal with the China, South Korea, Russian and the United States in 2005 to end its nuclear program in exchange for diplomatic and economic opportunities.
Kerry condemns North Korea’s crimes
Kerry also condemned North Korea’s crimes. He described the North Korean government’s public displays of executions as “grotesque and horrendous.” It was reported that President Kim Jong-un ordered the execution of his Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol, was executed in public using an anti-aircraft gun. He was accused of committing treason.
According to Kerry, North Korea should be referred to the International Criminal Court. He said the North Korean government showed “flagrant disregard for international law while denying its people fundamental freedom and rights.”
He added that Pres. Km Jong-un displayed one “one of the most egregious examples of reckless disregard for human rights and human beings anywhere on the planet.”
“The world is hearing increasingly more and more stories of grotesque, grisly, horrendous public displays of executions on a whim and a fancy by the leader against its people who were close to him and sometimes for the most flimsy of excuses,” said Kerry.
Kerry warned that other nations would likely press charges against North Korea and its leader in the International Criminal Court. He also vowed to speak against Pyongyang’s violence against its people.