Obama warns N Korea, Iran on waning options
US President Obama (L) said he and Russian counterpart Medvedev agreed to support diplomatic efforts in Syria. AP photoU.S. President Barack Obama has warned North Korea and Iran over their nuclear programs and vowed to pursue further nuclear arms cuts with Russia, at the nuclear safety summit in Seoul.
“Your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek, they have undermined it. Instead of the dignity you desire, you are more isolated,” Obama said referring to North Korea. South Korea warned yesterday that it might shoot down parts of a North Korean rocket if it violates South Korean territory. The North has announced it will fire the rocket to put a satellite into orbit between April 12 and 16, to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding President Kim il-sung.
The summit of more than 50 nations opened with a dinner yesterday. Obama warned Iran that time was running out to resolve the standoff over its nuclear program through diplomacy.
“There is time to solve this diplomatically ... But time is short. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands,” he said. The threat posed by nearby nuclear-equipped North Korea also loomed large over Obama’s meeting on the sidelines of the summit with the President of China, Pyongyang’s main ally. The White House said Obama had urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to use his country’s influence over North Korea to push the isolated country to meet its international obligations.
Missile talks after polls
Obama also said major progress had been made over the past two years to eliminate or safeguard material that could be used to make thousands of bombs. He urged the gathered leaders to “keep at it” and pledged further actions from the United States, including efforts with Russia to jointly cut their stockpiles. He said that the United States had “more nuclear weapons than we need.”
The U.S. president also met Russia’s outgoing leader, Dmitry Medvedev, on the sidelines of the summit, with missile defense in Europe, Iran and the conflict in Syria topping their agenda. After his meeting with Medvedev, Obama said the U.S. and Russia have “more work to do” to bridge their differences, including their approach to violence in Syria. Despite their differences, Medvedev said the relationship between the U.S. and Russia has reached its “best level.”
Obama told Medvedev that he would have more flexibility after the November election to deal with the contentious issue of missile defense. Medvedev said he would pass on Obama’s message to his successor, Vladimir Putin, according to an audio recording of comments the two leaders made during the meeting.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by
the Daily News staff.