Secretary Rice discussed North Korea's nuclear program the day after Pyongyang apparently launched a short-range missile, which landed in the Sea of Japan.
In reassuring South Korea, Japan and other U.S. allies in the Pacific, Ms. Rice pointed out the United States has a robust military capability in the region. "We have, after all, a very strong alliance with South Korea and a very strong alliance with Japan. Of course, the United States maintains significant, and I want to underline significant, deterrent capability of all kinds in the Asia-Pacific region," she said. "So I don't think there should be any doubt about our ability to deter whatever the North Koreans are up to. But that doesn't mean that it is not a serious problem and that the North Koreans should not come back to the six-party talks because all of their neighbors consider this to be a problem. This is not just between the United States and North Korea."
Pyongyang announced earlier this year it was dropping out of six-nation talks on its nuclear weapons program
Last week the head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Navy Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, told a Senate committee he believes North Korea has the capability to arm a missile with a nuclear device, with a range that could reach the United States.
U.S. intelligence officials believe North Korea has had a nuclear weapons capability since the 1990s and may have added to its arsenal after it expelled nuclear inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.