Remarks with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Marriott New York East Side
New York City, NY
September 18, 2016

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) (In progress.) -- face the threat from North Korea totally different in dimension from the past regarding provocations, including the recent nuclear test (inaudible) development of nuclear and missile capabilities. The international society is required to initiate a different response accordingly.

U.S., ROK, and Japan must be in the driver seat to lead the international debate. We must make North Korea understand that repeated provocations will isolate them from the international community and that there can be no bright future for them at all. Our three countries should work closely to apply stronger pressure on North Korea through Security Council resolutions, including further sanctions as well as taking our own measures respectively. As security environment in Asia becomes tough, Japan-U.S. alliance, U.S.-ROK alliance, and the forward-looking Japan-ROK relationship will have to shoulder even greater role for the regional peace and stability.

Today, I hope to have a frank exchange of views with you to deepen our trilateral relationship in broad areas, including security, to address the imminent challenge of North Korea and other issues.

Sir, for the outset, I would also like to invite comments from Secretary Kerry as well as Minister Yun. So, John, please.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Fumio, thank you very much, and Byung-se, thank you for joining us here for this trilateral meeting. Let me just begin by emphasizing as strongly as I can that the alliance, the obligations, the mutual interests that we share and our efforts to protect them could not be stronger. And the United States remains deeply committed to our treaty obligations, to our mutual defense obligations, and to rolling back the provocative, reckless behavior of the DPRK.

We are working closely with you and with all of our – all of the interested parties in the region to be sure that we make it clear to a reckless dictator that all he is doing through his actions is isolating his country, isolating his people, depriving his people of genuine economic opportunity, and that the global community will not be intimidated and will not pull back from our obligations under the nonproliferation treaty and all of our international efforts to rein in nuclear weapons rather than see them proliferate. We are going to continue on our course.

We have said many times that we are prepared to sit down with the DPRK to deal with the issues of nonaggression, of peace on the Korean Peninsula, of joining the international community, of attracting assistance and economic development, providing North Korea is prepared to talk with the rest of the world about responsible approaches to the question of nuclear weaponry and a nuclear program. So they must engage in a discussion about denuclearization. And the immediate need is for them to freeze where they are – to agree to freeze and not engage in any more provocative actions, not engage in more testing particularly, in order to bring countries together and to begin a serious negotiation about the future.

So I thank both of my colleagues for coming together for this important trilateral meeting, and the United States will continue to work very closely with both countries – with both Japan and the Republic of South Korea, Republic of Korea to work through the ways in which we can summon the world through the Security Council and through other efforts to respond to this latest reckless choice that Kim Jong-un has made. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER YUN: Thank you, John. (Inaudible.)


SECRETARY KERRY: Is it working? You want to use one of ours? Do we have a mike that works in – why don’t you come over here. Do you want to come over here? (Laughter.) I mean, we’re an equal-opportunity, microphone-sharing (inaudible). (Laughter.) (Inaudible) a working mike. (Inaudible.)

FOREIGN MINISTER YUN: Okay, good. Very good. Thank you, Minister Kishida and John. Earlier this month, when all three of our leaders participated at the East Asian Summit, one non-Asia leader aptly described North Korea as a ticking time bomb. In fact, in less than 24 hours after the EAS leaders adopted the first-ever special declaration of nonproliferation, Pyongyang ridiculed the EAS leaders and the UN Security Council by going ahead with its fifth nuclear test. The recent nuclear test by Pyongyang provided ample proof that its nuclear program has neared the tipping point.

Of the five nuclear tests conducted over the past decade, the latest one was the strongest ever. Moreover, the test frequency was significantly reduced from three years to eight months. North Korea also fired 22 ballistic missiles (inaudible) this year alone. This means one ballistic missile almost every 10 days. This is a vivid example of the fanatical recklessness of the Pyongyang regime.

With all of these nuclear missile tests, Pyongyang is now at the final stage of nuclear weaponization. They not only have advanced in terms of a capacity, but has made it public that it will actually use those weapons. It has blackmailed the preemptive nuclear strikes. What we see is a looming perfect storm that may not only pounce on Northeast Asia, but sweep over the entire world. This is the very reason why President Park Geun-hye warned at the recent EAS that if we fail to put a stop on Pyongyang’s nuclear ambition today, we’ll all come to regret it tomorrow. This is an unprecedented challenge against the three of us, the members of the Six-Party Talks, the UN Security Council, and the international community as a whole.

I recall Dr. Henry Kissinger’s international New York Times op-ed a few years ago. He stressed that it’ll be a shame if the mighty members of the Six-Party Talks cannot take on North Korea’s fanatics. To be more precise, however, the shame and ridicule fall not just on the five members, but the UN Security Council and the UN itself. We are all stakeholders in this respect. What we should now be doing is to put a full stop and roll back Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs once and for all. We share (inaudible), organizing whatever means we have to denuclearize North Korea.

Our message today is crystal clear: Number one, North Korea cannot continue to deride the Security Council and the United Nations. The Security Council must swiftly adopt a robust new sanctions resolution and prove its credibility and authority.

Number two, Kim Jong-un and North Korean regime cannot get away with all their misbehavior and provocations. If they blithely insist on going down that road, it will be the very path to (inaudible). The international community as a whole must take advantage of the ongoing UN General Assembly and send out a united and forceful message against Pyongyang’s nuclear development. At the same time, we should not lose sight of its dire human rights situation.

Number three, North Korea cannot prevail over the international community, including South Korea, United States, and Japan. As the key stakeholders in this nuclear conundrum, the three of us will continue to muster the collective will of the international community to this end. Thank you.