SEOUL, May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday North Korea has "not even come close" to taking the steps needed to rein in its nuclear weapons program to initiate talks, adding the United States was considering further sanctions.
Speaking in the South Korean capital, Kerry said Washington continued to offer the isolated North the chance for an improved relationship in return for signs of a genuine willingness to end its nuclear program.
"To date, to this moment, particularly with recent provocations, it is clear the DPRK is not even close to meeting that standard," Kerry told a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
"Instead it continues to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles."
DPRK are the initials of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. North Korea is already under heavy U.S. and UN sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests.
Kerry said it was likely that the North would be referred to the International Criminal Court if its current behavior on human rights continues and that it was considering further sanctions.
Pyongyang walked away from a 2005 deal with the United States, Russia, South Korea, and China to end its nuclear program in return for diplomatic and economic rewards.
The North recently tested what it said was a submarine-launched ballistic missile, raising regional tensions about the prospect of a heightened threat that already includes nuclear arms development and an arsenal of ballistic missiles.
North Korea is technically still at war with the South after the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and regularly threatens to destroy the South's major ally, the United States. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Ju-min Park; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Nick Macfie)