US Secretary of State John Kerry today accused North Korea of a litany of crimes and atrocities while reassuring South Korea of America's "ironclad" security commitments. Kerry blamed North Korea for breaking promises, making threats, and showing "flagrant disregard for international law" by continuing to build its nuclear programs even as it oppressed its own people. He said North Korea's "horrific conduct" must be exposed and vowed to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang to change its behavior, particularly since it has rebuffed attempts to restart nuclear disarmament negotiations. "They have grown the threat of their program and have acted with a kind of reckless abandon," Kerry said.
His comments come less than a week after Kim Jong Un reportedly ordered his defense chief executed, an allegation that, if true, adds to worries about the erratic nature of Kim's rule. Kerry called it the latest in a series of "grotesque, grisly, horrendous, public displays of executions on a whim and fancy." He said such behavior would bolster calls for North Korea to be referred to the International Criminal Court. Kerry noted North Korea's refusal to return to nuclear talks, saying "all they are doing now is isolating themselves further and creating greater risks." He said the US remained open to talks if "we ... have some indication from the leader of North Korea that they are serious about engaging." Kerry suggested more sanctions over Pyongyang's "very dangerous course." (Read more John Kerry stories.)