President Obama called on North Korea on Thursday to end its belligerence after months of escalating rhetoric and actions related to its nuclear program.
Obama also pledged that “the United States will take all necessary steps to protect its people and to meet our obligations under our alliances in the region.” The United States has defense treaties with South Korea and Japan.
“Now is the time for North Korea to end the kind of belligerent approach that they’ve been taking and to try to lower temperatures,” Obama said after an Oval Office meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Obama’s comments, while consistent with the message delivered in recent weeks by senior administration officials, were his first since the latest round of worrying North Korean actions began.
In December, the government of Kim Jong Un tested a long-range rocket, followed two months later by an underground nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council tightened economic sanctions against North Korea in response. Since then, the Pyongyang government has threatened war against the United States and South Korea.
Senior administration officials have called the threats typical of North Korea’s “pattern of behavior” dating back to the George W. Bush administration. Earlier this month, the Pentagon ordered the deployment of an antimissile system to Guam to boost defenses.
“Nobody wants to see a conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” Obama said. “But it’s important for North Korea, like every other country in the world, to observe the basic rules and norms that are set forth, including a wide variety of U.N. resolutions.”
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