Kerry was speaking Thursday to a visiting group of college students. He questioned why the reclusive communist regime would want to carry out another nuclear test.
He says, quote, "All that will happen is greater potential for conflict."
Kerry describes the standoff with Pyongyang as lamentable, given that the people of North Korea are starving.
He says the country desperately needs to open up, quote, "instead of harboring some of the worst gulags in the world, where people are tortured and forced labor" persists.
North Korea vowed last month to carry out its third nuclear test but has said nothing about timing.