Secretary of State John Kerry says recent rhetoric from North Korea is "unacceptable" and that the US will defend itself as well as South Korea from any threat from the North. Watch his entire news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se.
North Korean authorities were not allowing South Korean workers into a joint industrial park on Wednesday, South Korea's Unification Ministry said, according to Reuters.
A South Korean official said that hundreds of South Koreans currently in the Kaesong industrial zone would be allowed to leave, but incoming workers would not be granted entry. North Korea had earlier delayed access to the park.
Tuesday, at a joint news conference at the State Department with South Korea's foreign minister, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a stern warning to North Korea - a pledge to defend U.S. interests and its regional treaty allies - and said North Korea knows what it needs to do if it wants to resume dialogue with the rest of the world.
Kerry also denounced North Korea's threatening rhetoric as "unacceptable," and said that the United States will defend its allies, South Korea and Japan, from any threat from the North.
Kerry said he would be visiting Seoul next week - in advance of South Korean President Park Geun-hye's visit to the White House later this spring.
As the U.S. deploys a Navy missile destroyer in case of a launch by North Korea, the country's leader Kim Jong Un has abolished an armistice with South Korea and is now saying he will re-open a nuclear bomb facility that was closed in 2007. NBC's Richard Engel reports.
As tensions continue to flare, the U.S. Navy has deployed a second destroyer in the western Pacific to respond to any missile threats from the North.
The USS Decatur was headed back to San Diego, Calif., when it was given a new mission: to join the USS McCain in a missile defense mission, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday.
A third destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, is also available to respond, if necessary, officials said.
The rogue communist state continued to make threats Tuesday, and said it would rebuild and restart nuclear facilities, including a mothballed reactor that can make one bomb's worth of plutonium a year.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the amount of hostility emanating from Pyongyang was alarming.
The U.S., Japan and South Korea had to be “very firm in sending them a message that we are going to do everything necessary to defend our security and defend our troops,” Panetta told CNBC in an interview. He said there was a danger of a "miscalculation" that escalated.
“I think we've got to be very concerned about ... the level of provocation that North Korea is engaged in. They are in the process of testing ICBMs [Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles]. They've also been testing nuclear weapons,” he said.
“The kind of provocation and bellicosity they're showing now with their rhetoric raises a lot of concern,” he added. “It just means the United States and our allies Japan and South Korea have to be very firm in sending them a message that we are going to do everything necessary to defend our security and defend our troops.”
NBC's Jim Maceda reports on U.S. Navy movements of destroyers into the Pacific amid threats from North Korea.
A spokesman for the North's General Department of Atomic Energy said restarting its nuclear facilities was part of efforts to resolve the country's acute electricity shortage, but also for "bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity," the official Korean Central News Agency said, according to Reuters.
Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test in February, prompting a new round of U.N. sanctions that have infuriated its leaders and led to a torrent of threatening rhetoric. The United States has sent nuclear-capable bombers and stealth jets to participate in annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that the allies call routine but that Pyongyang claims are invasion preparations.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon said the crisis “has already gone too far.”
“Nuclear threats are not a game. Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counter-actions, and fuel fear and instability," Ban said at a news conference in Andorra, where he was on an official visit.
Ban offered to facilitate peace talks, but how the North would react was not immediately clear. Ban was South Korea's foreign affairs minister before election to his UN post.
Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon expresses great concern over the ongoing nuclear threats being issued by the North Korean government.
KCNA kept up the rhetoric on its English-language site Tuesday, with an article headlined “Intensified Anti-U.S. Action Called For.”
It quoted the “North Side Committee for Implementing the June 15 Joint Declaration” as saying in a statement that the joint U.S. and South Korean military exercise “clearly proves that the U.S. imperialists' scenario to launch a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula at any cost has reached an extremely reckless phase of its implementation.”
“As already clarified by the DPRK [North Korea], gone are the days when it could have verbal exchange with them,” the statement said.
“To wage a merciless, just, retaliatory war is the only way of rooting out the source of the danger of a nuclear war on this land and build a peaceful and prosperous reunified thriving nation where all Koreans live together,” it added.
Reuters and NBC News' John Newland contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Tue Apr 2, 2013 4:39 AM EDT