April 15th, 2013
05:30 AM ET

On North Korea's big day, Kerry underlines conditions for talks

By Jethro Mullen and Melissa Gray

As North Koreans celebrated the birthday on Monday of their country's late founder, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the regime in Pyongyang to ditch its nuclear program and put a lid on its fiery threats if it wants to hold talks.

"The United States has made clear many times what the conditions are for our entering talks and they haven't changed," Kerry said during an interview with CNN's Jill Dougherty in Tokyo.

"The conditions have to be met where the North has to move towards denuclearization, indicate a seriousness in doing so by reducing these threats, stop the testing, and indicate it's actually prepared to negotiate," he said.

Kerry was speaking at the end of a three-day trip that focused on securing fresh commitments from South Korea, China and Japan to try to persuade Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table and renounce nuclear weapons.

His visit followed weeks of dramatic threats by Kim Jong Un's regime, including that of a nuclear strike on the United States and South Korea.

There is uncertainty about how advanced the North's nuclear weapons program is, but Kerry on Monday reiterated the U.S. government view that Pyongyang doesn't yet have the capacity to carry out a nuclear attack.

Last month, North Korea scrapped the 1953 truce that effectively ended the Korean War and said it was nullifying the joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

It also recently pledged to restart a reactor at its main nuclear complex that had been shut down under an agreement reached in October 2007 during talks with the United States, South Korea and four other countries.

Kerry said Monday that the United States is concerned that North Korea's dogged pursuit of its nuclear weapons program could have consequences elsewhere in the world.

"It is the belief of President Obama, myself and the administration that what happens here also has an impact on perceptions in places like Iran, the Middle East, and elsewhere where we're engaged in nonproliferation efforts," he said.

Pyongyang insists that its nuclear weapons are a necessary deterrent because of the threat posed to it by the United States and its allies.

Multilateral talks on North Korea's nuclear program have ended in failure in the past, and Kerry said the United States isn't interested in going over old ground.

"We're not going to go through another cycle of artificial negotiations that are geared to simply attract some kind of aid or lull in events while they continue to pursue their devices' designs," he said.

A U.S. State Department official said Monday there are no plans to move toward direct talks, "because North Korea has shown no willingness to move in a positive direction."

Pyongyang on Sunday rejected a different proposal for dialogue, one by South Korea last week regarding the North's suspension of activity at the manufacturing zone that the two countries jointly operate.

A statement via KCNA, the state-run news agency, called the South's offer a "crafty trick" and "empty words without any content."

And a KCNA commentary Monday was titled, "U.S. is to blame for escalating tension on Korean Peninsula."

Kerry's trip finishes on one of the biggest dates on the North Korean calendar: "The Day of the Sun," when citizens celebrate the birthday of the country's founder and "eternal president," Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994. Monday is the 101st anniversary of his birth.

Current leader Kim Jong Un paid tribute Monday to Kim Il Sung, his grandfather, as well as his late father, Kim Jong Il, by visiting the halls where both men lie in state. It was believed to be the young leader's first public appearance in two weeks.

Suspicions remain that the North could carry out a test of a mobile ballistic missile in the coming days.

Kerry said in Beijing at the weekend that the United States and China are calling on North Korea to refrain from any provocative steps - including any missile launches.

Pyongyang made good on its promise to launch a long-range rocket around the time of Kim Il Sung's birthday last year; the rocket broke apart after launch and fell into the sea.

North Korea has made more threats since then. It launched a rocket in December that apparently put a satellite into orbit, and in response, the U.N. Security Council approved broadening sanctions against the country.

Angered by those sanctions, Pyongyang announced in January it was planning its third nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches as part what it called a new phase of confrontation with the United States.

It carried out an underground nuclear bomb test in February, resulting in even tougher sanctions. Those measures, along with joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises in South Korea, prompted an intensification in the North's threats.

CNN's Elizabeth Joseph and Tim Schwarz contributed to this report.


Filed under: North Korea • Sec. State John Kerry
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Utgjkiutgj Sfvbnjhr

    CHINA ONLY CARES ABOUT CHINA NK CITIZENS ARE AN AMEBIA OF BRAINWASHED ASIAN KUNG FU MASTERS STANDING GUARD OVER THEMSELFS RUSIA IS RADIO ACTIVE DRY WHITE RICE NK'ins ARE RACIST NK SHOULD TALK TO ITSELF INSTEAD OF TALK AT ITSELF WHILE HOLDING A PROVERBIAL MIRROR LOOKING OVER ITS SHOULDER INTO ANOTHER LARGER MIRROR THAT NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE NK NEEDS LEADERSHIP AND NK NEEDS TO FEED ITSELF NK NEED NO EXCUSES ALBIET NK SAYS THEY ARE NOT IN CONTROL OF THEIR OWN DESTINY WHILE THEY PRACTICE BREAKING ROCKS WITH THEIR HEADS & STOMICS INTEAD OF CONCLUDING BASIC NEEDS NEED NOT BE A MYTH

    April 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  2. StanCalif

    The US has no business seeking "talks" with NK!
    Any "talks" need to be with China and Russia! China must be made to understand that their containers and ships will no longer be admitted to US ports as long as they support NK. This is the only way to get their serious attention. Now, China just sits back and allows "little Fat Boy" to threaten his neighbors and the US. What is China thinking??? We certainly don't know, here in lies the danger!

    April 16, 2013 at 6:29 am | Reply
  3. helenecha

    What we know is that people often heard the words and saw the pictures from Pyongyang about how powerful it is and how happy its people are, as it believes that it is surrounded by the threat posed by the United States and its allies. What we don’t know is what people will hear and see from Pyongyang without the threat that it is talking about. Is it going to tell people that Pyongyang has the greatest power in the world and people across the world should live as happy as those who we could have seen in its country?

    When it comes to the talks, are the members who are engaging in the efforts for the talks going to convince everyone that Korean peninsula has been getting increasingly peaceful than ever before because of these talks?

    April 16, 2013 at 5:00 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      China is the problem not NK! NK would not exit today without China's support! Russia is also involved. Nothing will change until China and Russia say so! "Talks" with NK are meaninglyless! Face the facts! NK has nothing to barter, China and Russia do!

      April 16, 2013 at 7:08 am | Reply
  4. brown

    NK has prevailed. The U.S.A short of a full scale invasion of NK cannot do very much of anything.

    China like it's pitbull and will continue to maintain the status quo.

    hahahahahhahahaha!

    America ... you are finished in Asia !

    April 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Reply
    • nachocheesetonight

      dream on little boy...

      April 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  5. Ryhetuj Hrtyijftu

    IT WOULD SEEM IT IS JUST ANOTHER DAY OF TRI-LATERAL TRIANGULATION FOR THE ANTI-US TYPES

    April 15, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  6. Shawn

    Wait till his army starts eating bark (assuming they haven't already). Then you'll see his 134th "final" warning.

    April 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  7. Joe

    Im curious to see how we deal with them.China cares whats going on its just at this point as long as nothing happens just stand back.Would you want a super power having military exercises outside your back yard.NK s leader is young and rash and wants respect when its not earned.Their military is strong and brainwashed.They are not going to change and if you give them something they will do it again and again.Leave it at a stalemate until they give a little then everyone else give a bit and calm this situation down.If it take 50 yrs of more talks so what.The people of NK cant do a thing with the military in charge at all.

    April 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  8. Nancy

    Ban Bombs at public events like the Boston Marathon!

    April 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  9. Kimchi Kid

    Just another NK bluff for a relaxation of sanctions or more relief. If everyone just ignored him, this would be a non story!

    April 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  10. Pete

    Kerry like the president is being firm because China,Russia have equipped N Korea and most here posting know it..Now the problem UN has is backing out of a serious situation without losing face or becoming a paper lion of sorts..If it ended negetive that way his whole country would condemn him and he'd be deemed as a lame duck dictator with his deputees pulling his strings and he would be just a shadow of himself until someone else of greater power comes along to overthrow him... UN now has to be diplomatic and try to not only appease the real super powers but show he's not backing down as well showing strength in the face of uncertainty,his place on top of that countrys government in the future depends on it!!

    April 15, 2013 at 10:47 am | Reply
  11. georgex

    China is not really interested in stepping into this problem that the U.S. has about N. Korea. China has made investments in many countries around the world while the U.S. has wasted a trillion dollars in Republican ex-president GW Bush reckless invasion of Iraq. That is money that has not helped our economy.

    April 15, 2013 at 9:40 am | Reply
  12. 1371usmc

    In other words "we will screw the American people and give you aid that we can't pay for but, they won't care. All you have to do is shut up! Keep your nukes just shut up your making obama look weak."

    April 15, 2013 at 9:38 am | Reply
    • BigShiz

      You don't live in reality? Do you?

      April 15, 2013 at 10:38 am | Reply
      • 1371usmc

        Obviously closer then you are.

        April 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • 1371usmc

        I wouldn't bother most of the time with someone as lost as you are but since I am in a good mood. You might want to look up some news from this morning. I watched it on morning Joe on msnbc. Mr.Kerry has stated that if NK will re-enter talks that the US will lift some sanctions and consider sending some aid. Ever heard that before? I don't know how old you are but I have heard it twice before and now its working a third time. So tell me where I am wrong? Obama is being weak, he got punked by NK, it will cost the taxpayers millions if not billions, and when NK gets desperate we will do it for another time. That is until someone with a set of balls says F@#%you to the fat punk.

        April 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Pete

        @1371usmc,yah its a hellava lot cheaper than getting into another senseless war like Vietnam or Iraq,Afghanistan..Wouldn't you agree and that's the smart adults,the diplomatic ones that talk peace not the armchair ignorents that start them like Bush wouldn't you say I'm right.And if they get foriegn aid what's new they've got it from China all these years as well right...

        April 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • 1371usmc

        Pete,
        I don't know or care what they get from China. All I do know is that this administration caved like a house of cards with very little effort. We didn't need to do anything but ignore the fat kid. If we act with the military we waste lives and funds if we cave he wins. Ignore him Ian the only action we should take but Obama ain't got the balls to do what's right.

        April 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
      • Pete

        @1371usmc,but remember what happens as an allie of S Korea having to supply meds,weapons and eccentials even if we don't go to war ..And what about the millions of N Korean refugees that would run in a heart beat to S Korea than eventually migrating to America and you know it another Mariel boatlift of sorts but all Korean..And as usual just like WWII with us being sucked in to fight Germany with Britain and Vietnam neither we had to fight but did you think we'll turn our backs on a Korea we supported since the 50s ,I think not ..So again put your thinking cap on because this ain't a simple checker game either because a spoiled brat in UN is involved and is dangerous as well not thinking of the devastating consequences with his people or ours perhaps eventually,right!!

        April 16, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Joe

      I agree with you on most of your points,You just dont suger coat wordsThe term Caving in I dont agree with but we all have opinions .

      April 16, 2013 at 5:34 am | Reply

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