White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to speculate Monday on what the death of Kim Jong Il will mean to North Korea, the region -- and the North Korean nuclear program.
And he wouldn't say whether US officials are confident in his son, Kim Jong-un, whom the questioner noted has been described as "untested, inexperienced, and with a volatile personality.
"I think that we will make judgments on the new leadership's disposition, if you will, based on how he and the government handles itself going forward," Carney said. "We have consistently demonstrated that we are open to engagement with North Korea, but we've also made clear that the North Koreans need to take steps towards denuclearization that would demonstrate seriousness of purpose and a willingness to negotiate. And that was our position last week, and it remains our position this week and going forward."
"Nothing has changed in our position, and we will judge, obviously, North Korea and its government based on how they engage on this issue going forward."