Obama warns North Korea on rocket launch: ‘Have the courage to pursue peace’

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

Speaking in South Korea Monday, President Barack Obama warned the leaders of North Korea and Iran that their nuclear programs undermine their nations' security, and urged them to give their citizens the benefits of peace.

"The United States has no hostile intent toward your country," Obama said in remarks Monday at South Korea's Hankuk University, addressing the leadership in Pyongyang.

"But by now it should be clear, your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek, they have undermined it," Obama said. "And today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the North Korean people."

Obama also urged Iran's leaders to seize the chance for a diplomatic resolution at the upcoming nuclear talks next month.

"There is time to solve this diplomatically, but time is short," he said. "Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands."

Obama's remarks came ahead of an international nuclear security summit in the South Korean capital. Some 60 world leaders have gathered in Seoul for the two-day conference on securing "loose nukes"—fissile material that could get into the hands of terrorists. The initiative was launched by the Obama administration two years ago.

Obama also met with Chinese President Hu Jintao ahead of the summit Monday. Washington is seeking China's help in pressing Pyongyang to abandon announced plans to launch a satellite into space aboard a long-range rocket next month.

North Korea has said the "launch is part of its peaceful space program and says a new southern flight path is meant to avoid other countries," Al-Jazeera reported, noting that previous tests of its long-range missiles have been fired over Japan.

Obama warned in his remarks Monday that Pyongyang could jeopardize a planned U.S. food aid package for North Korea if it goes ahead with the launch.

"Obviously of great importance to us and I know to you as well, the situation in North Korea and the situation in Iran—we both have an interest in making sure that international norms surrounding nonproliferation and preventing destabilizing nuclear weapons is very important," Obama said before his meeting with Hu Monday.

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