- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

President Trump called on North Korea to begin dismantling its nuclear weapons and missiles as a precondition for talks, and warned Pyongyang not to test the resolve of the U.S. and its allies in the nuclear standoff.

In a speech delivered to South Korea’s National Assembly early Wednesday, local time, Mr. Trump said the U.S. won’t allow the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to keep threatening America and its allies.

And the president issued a blunt warning to Mr. Kim.

“The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer,” Mr. Trump said. “They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.”

In a stern 33-minute address, Mr. Trump recited a long list of the communist regime’s crimes against its own citizens, including forced labor, torture, forced abortions and religious persecution. Then he offered the regime “a path to a much better future.”

“It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable and total denuclearization,” Mr. Trump said. “We are only prepared to discuss this brighter path for North Korea if its leaders cease their threats and dismantle their nuclear program.”

For decades, Mr. Trump said, North Korea has been taking advantage of weak U.S. administrations that allowed Pyongyang to evade international restrictions on its weapons programs, and kept developing nuclear devices and missiles.

“The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness,” the president said. “This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past.”

The president said he will seek the help of China and Russia in pressuring North Korea to abandon its weapons programs.

“I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us,” Mr. Trump said. “And do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.”

He said his administration “will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction.”

“America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it,” Mr. Trump said. “The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation.”

Much of Mr. Trump’s speech was devoted to highlighting the stark differences between life in North and South Korea since the armistice was signed in the Korean War in 1953. He said the democratic South has flourished, while the communist North has retreated into a wasteland of seclusion, misery and depravation.

North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves,” he told Mr. Kim.

And in a new challenge to Beijing, Mr. Trump asked aloud, “Why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?”

China is considered North Korea’s main patron, and has resisted most U.S. efforts in the past to stop the regime’s aggression. Mr. Trump departed for China shortly after the speech for meetings with President Xi Jinping on the North Korea threat and trade talks.

Noting that American and South Korean soldiers fought together in the Korean War, Mr. Trump said in Seoul, “The Korean miracle extends exactly as far as the armies of free nations advanced in 1953 — 25 miles to our north. There it stops. The flourishing ends and the prison state of North Korea sadly begins.”

He said the South experienced “miraculous” growth after the devastating war. And he said South Korea’s democratic success is a lesson for the world when compared with North Korea’s autocratic communist rule.

“The more successful South Korea becomes, the more decisively you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime,” Mr. Trump said.

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