WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday brushed aside any suggestion that the United States would accept North Korea's desire to become a nuclear power.
"We have continually insisted that North Korea denuclearize," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at his side. "We will pursue denuclearization on the Korean peninsula vigorously, so we have not come to a conclusion that North Korea will or should be a nuclear power."
Obama said that the United States, along with South Korea and regional powers such as China, Japan and Russia, would never accept North Korea's goal of becoming a nuclear power and would break the historic cycle of paying off North Korea to stop developing nuclear weapons.
"We're going to break that pattern," the president said.
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He said that the United States would work to implement a United Nations resolution condemning North Korea's tests of a nuclear weapon, including trying to tighten sanctions and interdict ships carrying weapons supplies.
"North Korea," he said, "has a track record of proliferation that makes it unacceptable for them to be accepted as a nuclear power.
"They have not shown in the past any restraint in terms of exporting weapons to not only state actors but also non-state actors. So what we've said is that there is a path for North Korea to take in which they are joining the world community, becoming integrated into the world economy, able to feed their own people, able to provide prosperity for their people.
"I know that the Republic of Korea welcomes that kind of neighbor. And, obviously, there's a strong historic bond between the Korean peoples that should be affirmed. But in order to take that path, North Korea has to make a decision and understand that prestige and security and prosperity are not going to come through the path of threatening neighbors and engaging in violations of international law."
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