Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, just wrapping up a campaign swing through Iowa, says North Korea’s boast that they have tested a nuclear bomb shows “the incompetence” of President Bush’s foreign policy.

“First of all it represents a threat to the region and the potential for an arms race that involved Japan and South Korea and it is destabilizing, and it is dangerous,” Kerry says. “But the second thing and perhaps equally important — is that it represents a gigantic failure, a complete lapse of focus and of effort by this administration.”

Kerry, the Democratic candidate for president who lost to Bush in 2004, says for six years, the Bush Administration has taken an approach — or as Kerry says “had an attitude” about North Korea — that has not worked. “There’s been a deal that’s been possible with North Korea for a number of years. I talked about it during the presidential campaign,” Kerry says. “…The Administration has consistently refused to engage in bilateral talks. They’ve consistently failed to send the kind of negotiating team that Ronald Reagan sent to Gorbachev in Russia and the Soviet Union or Nixon to China. This is a disgraceful failure of leadership and of focus by the (Bush) Administration.”

Kerry contends that unless there’s face-to-face negotiations between U.S. and North Korean leaders, the situation will only grow more dangerous. “Once again, while they’re bogged down in Iraq, they’ve allowed other dangerous things to evolve,” Kerry says. “The incompetence is really beyond description and America is paying for it in our security.”

President Bush this morning said North Korea’s actions “unacceptable” and Bush called on the United Nations to take “immediate action.” Kerry says the Bush Administration’s handling of this looming crisis has been “utterly disgraceful.”

“This administration runs around the country beating its chest about security and how Democrats won’t keep the country secure. They haven’t kept it secure,” Kerry says.

Kerry has been campaigning for Democrats in Iowa over the past two days. He headlined a five-county rally last night in Emmetsburg.