Washington's main diplomatic envoy charged with dealing with North Korea says he does not believe Pyongyang's rejection of nuclear diplomacy is permanent. However, he warns the North not to believe more weapons development is in its best interest.
North Korea's official news media quoted foreign ministry officials Friday as saying the country has no choice but to bolster what it calls its "nuclear deterrent."
In a reference to President Obama's recent milestone of 100 days in office, the North Korean editorial said it remains clear what it calls "the U.S. hostile policy" toward the North has not changed.
Pyongyang vows to carry out more missile tests
In recent weeks North Korea has ejected international inspectors, announced it had restarted its production and processing of nuclear material into explosive material, and vowed to carry out more nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Pyongyang says it will no longer participate in six-nation talks to end its nuclear capabilities, calling them "useless."
U.S. North Korea envoy Stephen Bosworth arrived in Seoul Friday as part of a four-nation itinerary to discuss the problem with Washington's regional partners. He offered a blunt answer when asked what the United States could do to prevent another nuclear test.
"Not much. If the North Koreans decide to carry out a second nuclear test, then we will deal with the consequences of that. And there will be consequences," he said. "But we can't control at this stage what North Korea does."
North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, drawing a punitive resolution from the United Nations Security Council. A U.N. committee targeted several North Korean business interests for enforcement of that resolution last month, after North Korea launched a long range rocket over northern Japan.
US envoy is open to dialogue
Bosworth says the "door to dialogue is open" to the North, and that he does not believe the North's refusal to talk is final.
"We're also prepared to deal with North Korea on a bilateral basis, but in a way that reinforces the multilateral process," he said.
Bosworth rejects North Korea's characterization of the United States as hostile.
"President Obama has stressed on numerous occasions... that we are committed to resolving the problems that we face through negotiation and dialogue - so I don't think we can be interpreted as having a hostile policy," explained Bosworth.
Bosworth says there are no plans to visit North Korea on this stop through Asia. He is scheduled to depart South Korea for Japan on Monday.