In battle of brinkmanship that has been, up until this point, marked mainly by North Korea trying to bring things to the brink again and again, the U.S. has stepped forward, with Secretary of State John Kerry announcing that North Korea will not be allowed to become a nuclear power.
“North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power,” Kerry said during a news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. “The rhetoric that we are hearing is simply unacceptable.”
Kerry’s comments came as he was visiting South Korea amid escalating threats from North Korea. Among its actions in the past two months, North Korea has said it ended the treaty that stopped the Korean War, has restarted a shuttered nuclear reactor and it has threatened both South Korea and U.S. military bases in the South Pacific.
There are fears that North Korea might time a show of military power — potentially a missile launch — to coincide with state founder Kim Il-sung’s birth date, which the country is celebrating.
A report from the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency also said that North Korea may have a nuclear weapon that it could potentially mount on a missile, but the possibility of imminent war between the nations was dismissed by U.S. officials and South Korea, reports Reuters.
The military report, which was made public in a House Armed Services Committee hearing, also noted that, should North Korea have such a weapon, its reliability would be low, reports ABC News.
This is Kerry’s first visit to South Korea as secretary of state. In addition to a meeting with Yun, he also met with President Park Geun-hye and pledged that the U.S. would defend its ally, should it need to.