WASHINGTON -- The United States will continue to hold North Korea responsible for its provocations, a state department spokesperson said Wednesday, insisting the US has the means to do so.
State Department Press Secretary Ned Price also insisted that additional provocations by the reclusive North will only further isolate the country.
"We have been clear that as long as the DPRK continues with its provocations, continues with its launches of ballistic missiles, including longer range ballistic missiles, and the sorts of provocations that we've seen intensifying on the part of the DPRK in recent weeks, we will continue to hold responsible those who are overseeing the DPRK's WMD and nuclear weapons programs," Price said in a daily press briefing when asked if there are steps that can really hurt North Korea.
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Sunday (Seoul time), marking its seventh missile test in just two weeks.
South Korean ambassador to the US Cho Tae-yong earlier said Pyongyang has launched 43 ballistic missiles in 2022 alone, the largest number of ballistic missiles it fired in a single year.
"This is something that we are doing with our own authorities," Price said, apparently referring to US sanctions announced last week on individuals and entities engaged in illegal ship-to-ship transfer of petroleum products with North Korea.
"But it is also something that we will need to discuss with our allies and partners, including in the Indo Pacific, with our partners in New York and our partners around the globe, to see to it that we are doing everything we can to hold accountable those who are placing their WMD programs over the welfare of the people of the DPRK," he added.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
The US has failed at least twice, and as recently as last week, to impose new U.N. Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on North Korea this year, due to opposition from China and Russia, both veto power-wielding permanent members of the UNSC and close friends of North Korea.
Price insisted the US possessed "appropriate tools" to hold North Korea accountable for its provocations, including a potential nuclear test.
"This is a program that is dangerous. It is a program that is destabilizing. It is a program that poses a threat not only to our interests in the region, but to those of our treaty allies as well, and we will use appropriate tools to hold accountable those who are overseeing it," he said of North Korea's weapons program.
Both Seoul and Washington have noted the North may have completed all preparations for a nuclear test that will mark the seventh of its kind. Pyongyang conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.
"For our part, we have made clear ourselves, we have made clear bilaterally with our South Korean allies, we have made clear trilaterally with our South Korean and Japanese allies, that there will be additional costs imposed on the DPRK if it goes forward with a seventh nuclear test," said Price.
"If the DPRK has the erroneous belief that the types of provocations that it has mounted, especially in recent weeks and recent months, give it any additional leverage, the consequences that it will bear from the international community will prove once again that is not the case," he added. (Yonhap)