“They have nuclear capacity now, they have missile delivery capacity now,” Hagel said after giving a major strategy speech at the National Defense University, calling Pyongyang’s “bellicose dangerous rhetoric” problematic.
“We take those threats seriously, we have to take those threats seriously,” he added. “We are doing everything we can, working with the Chinese and others to defuse that situation on the peninsula.
“I hope the North will ratchet its very dangerous rhetoric down.”
North Korea on Wednesday blocked access to the key Kaesong joint industrial zone with South Korea — the only surviving example of inter-Korean cooperation and a crucial source of hard currency for Pyongyang.