Secretary of State John Kerry appeared at the top of today’s press briefing to rail at the Senate about holds on nominees, but left miffed at media questions about North Korea’s nuke test.
Kerry argued that Senate holds were impeding the ability of the U.S. government to fight ISIS. “End this notion that one United States senator or two can stop the entire process and put the United States not just in an embarrassing situation, but in a negative situation that actually hurts our security, hurts our interests, sets back our ability to carry our values at the highest level and most importantly, sets back our ability to organize fully on our effort to defeat Daesh and protect the people of the United States of America,” the former senator said.
He was on his way out of the room without taking any questions as reporters shouted questions about North Korea. He hesitantly stepped back to the podium to answer one.
“As these confirmations are held up, do you think you have a major problem now in North Korea and that too much time may have been felt paid to Iran and other challenges while North Korea was left without getting enough attention?” reporter Andrea Mitchell asked.
Kerry seemed miffed at the assertion.
“Let me just make it clear, North Korea has never been left unattended to. Not for one day. We have had meetings, we have had constant consultations,” Kerry said. “On the first trip that I made to China, when I raised the issue of the climate negotiation that resulted in China joining with us, I spent most of that trip and most of that time on North Korea.”
“Now China had a particular approach that it wanted to make and we agreed and respected to give them the space to be able to implement that, but today in my conversation with the Chinese I made it very clear, that has not worked and we cannot continue business as usual,” he continued. “But there have been any number of trips, any number of conversations and I’m happy to have [press secretary] John Kirby lay out the entire tick-tock, if you will, that will show you how that premise is absolutely inaccurate, it’s without foundation.”
Pressed on whether “it’s time for China to crack down and get tough with North Korea,” Kerry said Kirby would address it.
“It’s time for everybody to make sure that this does not continue as business as usual,” Kerry said as he quickly left the room.
Kerry opened his remarks praising “several very important breakthroughs” at his diplomatic hands over the past several months, including the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
Kerry said he spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif this morning about implementation of the Iran nuclear deal — aka the day Tehran gets its sanctions relief.
“I think it could come — without being specific — sooner rather than later,” he said. “On the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, may I point out, we have already seen very significant results.”
“…Now, as implementation day approaches, obviously it’s our task to continue to ensure that Iran lives up to commitments, while building on our own commitment at the same time to address the questions of Iran’s activities — whether it’s missile activities or other activities — in the region and we will continue to do that. I can assure you, as well as continue to press for the return of Americans who is have been unjustly detained.”