U.S. President Obama met with the leaders of Russia and China ahead of a nuclear non-proliferation summit Monday in the South Korean capital. He also delivered a speech calling on the North Koreans to “have the courage to pursue peace” and “take irreversible steps” to meet their international obligations. The president also cautioned Iran that time is running out to resolve its own nuclear standoff.
Nuclear tensions with North Korea and Iran were the focus for President Obama in a Seoul speech and during his one-on-one sessions, later in the day, with the leaders of Russia and China.
At the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, the president said he wanted to directly convey to the leaders in Pyongyang, less than 200 kilometers away, the United States has no hostile intent - but that they should know further provocations will have consequences.
“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," said Obama. "Instead of earning the respect of the world, you have been met with strong sanctions.”
The United States and South Korea are warning the North it faces more sanctions if it goes ahead next month with what Pyongyang terms a “space launch.”
Many members of the international community say that would violate existing sanctions forbidding North Korea from utilizing ballistic missile technology.
South Korean army Colonel Yoon Won-shik says the military here will take action if the multi-stage missile veers over this country's territory.
Yoon, a defense ministry spokesman, says the military will attempt to shoot down any parts of the missile that veer from the planned trajectory and crosses South Korea.
In Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka says not only will PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles be deployed in the Ryukyu islands for next month's North Korean launch, they will also be placed adjacent to the defense ministry headquarters in central Tokyo.
The Japanese defense minister says, to eliminate public anxiety, he will soon give orders to the Self Defense Forces and will make a decision on issuing a command to intercept and destroy the missile if it passes over Japan.
Chinese President Hu Jintao met Monday with both South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and, then, Obama to discuss the upcoming North Korean launch.
The Xinhua news agency quotes Hu telling his South Korean counterpart China does not want “a reversal of the hard-won momentum” toward reduced tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Shortly before meeting President Dmitry Medvedev, Obama pledged, in his Seoul speech, to pursue further strategic arms cuts with Russia.
Obama's meetings with the Chinese and Russian leaders also addressed suspicions about the true intent of Iran's nuclear program. In his speech, the president said he desires to work with Beijing and Moscow on a common diplomatic solution, but cautions Tehran that “time is short.