- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2013

Vice President Joseph R. Biden told South Koreans Friday that the international community must compel North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

“The United States and the world have to make it absolutely clear to Kim Jong-un that the international community will not accept or tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at Yonsei University in Seoul. “North Korea can never achieve security and prosperity so long as it pursues nuclear weapons — period.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has forged ahead with his nuclear program after that nation rejected the so-called six-party talks in 2008 and a pact aimed at rewarding it with economic incentives.

North Korea needs to understand that it cannot return to the old pattern of seeking rewards for bad behavior,” Mr. Biden said. “We are prepared to go back to six-party talks when North Korea demonstrates its full commitment to complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.”

The vice president said the U.S. “will never forget that Koreans — North and South — are one people, equally deserving to be treated with dignity.”

“And we will never accept the notion of the permanent division of the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “We will not stop working with you for the day when families are finally made whole, and Korea is whole.”

Mr. Biden arrived in South Korea Thursday night after two days of talks in Beijing aimed at reducing tensions over China’s recent declaration of a new air defense zone in the East China Sea, in a region claimed both by South Korea and Japan. Although the Chinese rebuffed Mr. Biden, the vice president said he made it clear that the U.S. and its allies do not accept China’s action.

“We do not recognize the zone,” Mr. Biden said. “It will have no effect on American operations. None. Zero. I’ve also made it clear that we expect China not to take action that increases tensions at the risk of escalation. And I was crystal-clear about our commitment to our allies, Korea and Japan.”

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