Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC News in an interview that North Korea "potentially" having a nuclear weapon would be "even more unacceptable." North Korea first tested its nuclear weapons capabilities in 2006 and had a more successful test in 2009. The country's most recent nuclear test was earlier this year.
ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz asked Kerry, who was in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, about the execution of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's uncle.
"I mean it really reminded me of — of a video that we saw of Saddam Hussein doing the same thing, having people plucked out of an audience and people sitting there sweating and nobody daring to move or do anything," said Kerry, according to the transcript provided by ABC News. "Um, this is the nature of this ruthless, horrendous dictatorship and of his insecurities. And — and I think we — we need to factor that into the urgency of getting China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, all of us, uh, to stay on the same page and to put as much effort into the denuclearization as possible. To have a nuclear weapon, potentially, in the hands of somebody like Kim Jong In — Jun — just becomes even more unacceptable."
Watch video of the whole exchange below:
Raddatz did not follow up to ask about North Korea's already existent nuclear capabilities. Last February, North Korea claimed it had successfully completed a third nuclear weapon test, this time underground. According to the State Department, Kerry was briefed about this test.
"As you know, there had been some reason to believe that the North Koreans might take this provocative step, so [Kerry] had been briefed," said department spokesperson Victoria Nuland on February 12, 2013. "He was well-prepared in advance. He was informed by senior staff last evening shortly before 11 that there was a suspected test. That was confirmed sometime thereafter. He immediately asked to be connected with counterparts, his Republic of Korea counterpart, his Japanese, his Chinese, and his Russian counterparts."
CNN has a complete timeline of North Korea's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.