President Obama said Sunday he doesn’t take seriously North Korea’s offer to suspend its missile program if the U.S. ends annual military exercises with South Korea.
Speaking at a press conference in Germany, Mr. Obama said North Korea’s repeated “provocative” actions, including the reported missile launch this weekend from a submarine, demonstrate that Pyongyang isn’t committed to stabilizing the Korean peninsula.
“We don’t take seriously a promise to simply halt until the next time they decide to do a test,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not something that happens based on a press release in the wake of a series of provocative behaviors. They’re going to have to do better than that.”
The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said Saturday that North Korea fired what is believed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. South Korean officials said the missile appears to have flown about 19 miles, well short of a successful test.
A North Korean official later offered to suspend such tests if the U.S. would halt its military exercises with South Korea.
Mr. Obama said the U.S. and the “entire world” take North Korea’s testing seriously.
“Although more often than not they fail in many of these tests, they gain knowledge each time they engage in these tests,” Mr. Obama said, adding that such behavior is “why we’ve cultivated cooperation with the Chinese to put more pressure on North Korea.”
“Although it is not where we would completely like it to be, I will say we’ve seen the Chinese be more alarmed and take more seriously what North Korea is doing,” he said. “They have been willing to be more forward leaning in exacting a price on North Korea’s destructive behavior.”