Washington, Feb 5: John Kerry, who recently replaced Hillary Clinton as the US Secretary of State, has warned North Korea against going ahead with an anticipated new nuclear test that President Barack Obama's administration has failed to stop so far, despite signing numerous pacts, sanctions and threats.
Kerry, a former Senator, joined the chorus with South Korea and japan, two of its close allies in the Asia-Pacific region, in asking Pyongyang on Sunday to cease its "provocative behaviour" or face serious consequences from the international community.
According to observers, however, the new US Secretary of State would need to raise more specific threats to make the West's dealing with North Korea more effective. The latter has rarely abided by the West's conditions. They said Washington has exhibited reluctance to make a deal with North Korea only to be repudiated again. But the same experts feel that President Obama was aware of Kerry's interest in engagement at the time of nominating him and that US Presidents are generally willing to take more risk in their second and concluding term.
In 2011, Kerry, who was a presidential candidate in 2004, criticised the US administration in one of his writing, saying the latter was making an "inadequate" response to North Korea's continuous defiance of the anti-nuclear agreements and its unprovoked attacks on South Korea.
He said multi-party talks which were started by the previous US administrations should be abandoned and instead, North Korea should be pressurised by a united front of nations which sanction it by curbing food and monetary aid. He advised direct talks between the US and North Korea, which could begin with discussions on missing US servicemen in the Korea War.
North Korea recently said that it would carry out its third nuclear test after launching a satellite into space in December. If Pyongyang masters a delivery system for nuclear weapons, it will be the third non-US ally with such capabilities, after Russia and China.
Will the new US Secretary of State take a hard line to make a difference?