During a visit to Seoul, South Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the North Koreans should be “inspired” to give up their nuclear weapons by the deal that was struck with Iran.
“Iran made a fundamental choice. It decided to freeze and roll back its nuclear program and allow inspectors to come in and create the time and space to see if we could agree a comprehensive agreement,” said Blinken, as reported by Reuters. About North Korea, he stated: “It’s our hope that the DPRK will be inspired by that example.”
He went on to cite “recent diplomatic progress” with Cuba and Myanmar as evidence the United States is “willing to engage with countries like North Korea.”
“If a country, even one with which we’ve had the most profound differences, is prepared to engage seriously and credibly in answering the demands of the international community, we are also prepared to engage,” Blinken declared.
However, he insisted the U.S. would “respond strongly” if there is another North Korean nuclear test, as international observers widely suspect.
South Korean president Park Geun-hye said on Monday that activity near the North’s nuclear test site indicates another detonation may be imminent. The South Korean Defense Ministry suggested it might be an underground test of a miniaturized warhead, bringing them perilously close to mounting nukes on a ballistic missile.
“We are in a situation in which we cannot predict what provocations North Korea might conduct to break away from isolation and to consolidate the regime,” Park warned.
Army General Vincent Brooks testified to a Senate panel on Tuesday that North Korea is “struggling” with its intercontinental ballistic missile program, but he warned that “over time, I believe, we are going to see them acquire these capabilities if they are not stopped.”