Kerry: A peaceful Korean Peninsula must be free of nuclear weapons
Kerry and Yun responded to questions during the briefing about the relationship between the U.S. and South Korea and an upcoming meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye in Washington. Most questions, however, centered on North Korea. Kerry said the U.S. will work with its allies to get North Korea to live up to its nuclear obligations.
"The United States and the Republic of Korea both want to see a peaceful Korean Peninsula, and that means it must be free of nuclear weapons," Kerry said. "We are committed to working with the Republic of Korea and the other six-party partners in order to get the North to live up to obligations that the North freely accepted and adopted. And we are prepared to work with the conviction that relations between the North and the South can improve - and they could improve very quickly, and the world would be much better off - if the leaders of the North, and one leader in particular, would make the right decisions. So I want to emphasize that that's our vision and that's the vision that we think the people of the world share.
When asked if a missile launch by North Korea would change the strategy the U.S. employs in the volatile situation, Kerry said a missile launch would be a major mistake.
"If Kim Jong-un decides to launch a missile, whether it's across the Sea of Japan or some other direction, he will be choosing, willfully, to ignore the entire international community, his own obligations that he has accepted, and it will be a provocative and unwanted act that will raise people's temperature with respect to this issue," Kerry said. "It should - I would say ahead of time that it is a huge mistake for him to choose to do that, because it will further isolate this country and further isolate his people who, frankly, are desperate for food, not missile launches, for people who are desperate for opportunity, not for a leader who wants to flex his muscles in this manner, that takes everybody to a bad place."
Yun shared Kerry's opinions on North Korea and said South Korea is doing its best to respond to the threats calmly to avoid future provocation.
"Secretary Kerry and I agreed that North Korea's recent threatening remarks to the foreign missions based in Pyongyang and foreigners living in Korea, as well as its nuclear missile threats, constitute a grave provocation to the international community as a whole," Yun said. "Secretary Kerry and I shared the assessment that the international community is dealing calmly with North Korea's threats and provocations and that the domestic situation in Korea is keeping stable without any unrest. This clearly shows that North Korea will gain nothing from its provocations and threats."