US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned North Korea that test firing its mid-range missile would be a "huge mistake." He has also called on China to help ease tension in the region.
"If [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un decides to launch a missile, whether it's across the Sea of Japan or any other direction, he will be choosing willfully to ignore the entire international community," Kerry told reporters in Seoul Friday.
The US top diplomat arrived in the South Korean capital to begin four days of talks as the region was bracing for a possible missile test from the North.
"It will be a huge mistake for [Kim Jong Un] to do that because it will further isolate his country," Kerry said, adding that North Korea "will not be accepted as a nuclear power."
Kerry said that reducing tension on the Korean Peninsula would require cooperation from all sides, including China.
"China has enormous capability to make a difference here," Kerry said. China is North Korea's only major ally, providing critical aid to Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, Kerry arrived in China on Saturday, where he is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping Saturday as well as Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Doubts over missile capabilities
Kerry's remarks came a day after the disclosure of a controversial Pentagon intelligence report, which said that North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, disclosed by Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn during congressional testimony on Thursday, claimed with "moderate confidence" that Pyongyang could deliver a nuclear payload via ballistic missile. But the report acknowledged that the weapon would be unreliable.
US officials, however, have distanced themselves from the report, with Kerry himself saying it is "inaccurate to suggest that the [North Korea] has fully tested, developed capabilities" as implied in the document.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that "North Korea has not demonstrated the capability to deploy a nuclear armed missile." South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman, Kim Min Seok, also said he was doubtful about the North's nuclear armed missile capabilities.
dr,slk/ch (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)