Obama, South Korean Leader, Demand North Korea Drop ‘Belligerent’ Behavior
June 16, 2009 - 5:47 PMSouth Korean President Lee Myung-bak expressed harsh criticism of North Korea when speaking at the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday.
“North Koreans must understand that they will not be able to gain compensation by provoking a crisis,” Lee said of the northern Communist nation with nuclear ambitions along its border.
“This has been a pattern in the past, but this will no longer be,” he said. “The firm U.S.-Korea cooperation and alliance will not allow that, and the recent Security Council resolution is not simply about words -- it is about taking follow-up action and vigorously implementing the U.N. Security Council resolution. We'll make sure that we fully implement the U.N. Security Council resolution.”
President Barack Obama, standing with Lee, backed up his views, saying, “The pattern in the past has been that North Korea would behave in a belligerent fashion and wait long enough and be rewarded. That is a pattern they have come to expect. We are going to break that pattern.”
“We have continually insisted that North Korea be denuclearized,” Obama said. “We have not come to the conclusion that North Korea will or should be a nuclear power. I don’t think there is any question that would be a profound threat not only to the United States but to world security.”
Lee’s visit to the United States comes amid rising tensions between Communist North Korea and the United States. North Korea is reportedly testing a nuclear missile-launch capable of reaching Alaska, and preparing for a third test launch in violation of United Nations sanctions. North Korea has also sentenced two American journalists to 12 years of hard labor.
“Like I said, the North Koreans must understand that their past behavior will not stand,” Lee said. “And, of course, not only the U.S.-Korea close partnership, but Japan, China, and the rest of the international community will take part in this effort -- and now the North Koreans will come to understand that this is different, that they will not be able to repeat the past or their past tactics and strategies.”
On Friday, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution calling for strong steps to block North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“Now we must pursue a sustained and robust effort to implement this resolution together with our international partners,” Obama said. “In addition to the Korean peninsula, we are committed to a global effort to pursue the goal of a world without nuclear weapons -- an effort that I will be discussing later this summer in Moscow and at the G8.”
According to the Arms Control Association, the following countries have nuclear weapons: China, France, Russia, Britain, United States, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea.
The two countries -- South Korea and the United States -- issued a joint vision statement on Tuesday.
“Our open societies, our commitment to free democracy and a market economy, and our sustained partnership provide a foundation for the enduring friendship, shared values, and mutual respect that tightly bind the American and Korean peoples,” the joint vision statement said.
“The Alliance is adapting to changes in the 21st Century security environment. We will maintain a robust defense posture, backed by allied capabilities which support both nations' security interests,” the statement continued. “The continuing commitment of extended deterrence, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella, reinforces this assurance.”
“In advancing the bilateral plan for restructuring the Alliance, the Republic of Korea will take the lead role in the combined defense of Korea, supported by an enduring and capable U.S. military force presence on the Korean Peninsula, in the region, and beyond,” the statement read.