- The Washington Times - Monday, May 25, 2009

UPDATED:

President Obama said he strongly condemns North Korea’s “reckless action” in a nuclear test and short-range missile launch early Monday, adding it only pushes the United States and the international community to “redouble” global nonproliferation efforts.

“North Korea’s programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world,” Mr. Obama said from the Rose Garden Monday before heading to Arlington National Cemetery for a Memorial Day ceremony. “North Korea will not find security and respect through threats and illegal weapons.”

The president said the Communist nation has violated its own promise to abandon its nuclear program and is blatantly violating international law and United Nations resolutions.

“Now, the United States and the international community must take action in response,” he said. “We will work with our friends and allies to stand up to this behavior, and we will redouble our efforts toward a more robust international nonproliferation regime that all countries have responsibilities to meet.”

Mr. Obama said North Korea’s test is only “deepening” its own isolation and “inviting stronger international pressure,” noting Russia and China joined the traditional U.S. allies of South Korea and Japan to condemn the news. He said the launch only encourages a redoubled effort for nuclear nonproliferation that “all countries have a responsibility to meet.”

At 2:10 a.m. Monday, the president issued a statement with a similar message calling the tests, which the rogue nation also conducted unsuccessfully in April, in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council.

“By acting in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community,” the president’s statement said. “North Korea’s behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia. Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea’s isolation.”

The security council is scheduled to meet Monday.

A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “We are gravely concerned by North Korea’s claims. We are analyzing the data. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that a seismic event took place consistent with a test. We are consulting with our Six-Party and U.N. Security Council partners on the next steps.”

Mr. Obama’s early morning statement capped a holiday weekend which the president spent with his family at Camp David.

Mr. Obama continued, “It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.”

He added that the danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities “warrants action by the international community.”

Mr. Obama said the actions are no surprise but are “of grave concern to all nations” and “constitute a threat to international peace and security.”

The president has made nuclear nonproliferation a top priority for his international relations agenda.

He said the United States will keep working with allies and partners in the Six-Party Talks and with the U.N. Security Council.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said on CNN Monday the Communist nation poses an “increasingly belligerent” challenge.

“It’s really important to emphasize the diplomatic path,” he said, highlighting the U.S.’s close alliances with Japan and South Korea.

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