U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is clearly concerned about North Korea's provocative actions and did not mean to downplay the seriousness of the issue when he said Pyongyang is "quieter" than before, a government official said Monday.
"The secretary and we all have been very clear in condemning North Korea's aggressive actions when they occur. We've talked recently about the ballistic missiles and how those were in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a regular press briefing.
"So I think the secretary has been very clear about our concern with North Korea's activity," she said in response to a question whether Kerry's statement is a correct assessment of the situation.
"He wasn't trying to convey something different than we've conveyed in the past."
Kerry made the remark in an interview Sunday with NBC's "Meet the Press," arguing that the North "has been quieter" since his visit to China in April last year. Though the U.S. has yet to achieve the goal of North Korea's denuclearization, Kerry said the country is moving toward that objective.
But critics said the assessment is far from reality.
While characterizing the North as "quieter," Kerry might have referred to the fact that the provocative nation has not carried out a nuclear test or a long-range rocket launch -- the two main types of provocations Pyongyang has used to rattle the world.
Even without such major provocations, however, the North has continued to rattle its saber in recent months, firing a number of rockets, missiles and artillery rounds off its coast with some launches in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Last week, the council issued a statement condemning the North's ballistic missile launches. (Yonhap)