(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of state department press briefing in last 6 paras; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- The United States continues to remain open to dialogue with North Korea without any preconditions, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) said Tuesday.
The remark comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country feels no need for dialogue with the U.S. or South Korea.
"Our goal is the complete, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we believe that there's still a diplomatic path forward to this," NSC coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said in a virtual press briefing.
"We have said we would be willing to sit down with Kim Jong-un without preconditions to negotiate that kind of an outcome, He has not responded to that offer, except to say that he has only continued his provocations, continued his missile launches, continued to try to pursue his nuclear ambitions, and all that's doing is causing greater insecurity and instability," added Kirby.
North Korea staged seven rounds of ballistic missile launches over the past two weeks, with its last missile test taking place on Sunday (Seoul time). The country has fired more than 40 ballistic missiles this year alone, the largest number of ballistic missiles it launched in a single year.
Pyongyang is also said to have completed all preparations for a nuclear test.
South Korea's spy agency earlier said the North may conduct its seventh nuclear test after Oct. 16, or after the Chinese Communist Party holds its National Congress.
Kirby said the U.S. currently remains focused on enhancing its bilateral and trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan amid the prolonged hiatus in dialogue with the North.
North has avoided denuclearization talks since late 2019.
The NSC spokesperson declined to comment when asked if the U.S. may consider redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea when or if Pyongyang actually conducts its seventh nuclear test.
The North conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.
State department spokesperson Ned Price said U.S. President Joe Biden has reaffirmed U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrence to South Korea when later asked a similar question.
"President Biden affirmed that U.S. extended deterrence commitment to the ROK," Ned Price said, referring to Biden's bilateral summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul in May.
"He (Biden) confirmed that commitment to the ROK, using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities," he added, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.
Price noted Seoul and Washington have also reactivated their high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group following Biden's trip to Seoul to discuss ways to strengthen their joint deterrence.
"When it comes to the DPRK's recent provocations, you have heard from the Department of Defense, you have heard from our treaty allies, Japan and ROK in this case, of the steps that we've taken in the aftermath of these provocations to ensure that readiness is where it needs to be, to ensure that our defenses are where they need to be to ensure that our deterrent capabilities are where they need to be," said Price.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
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