News / Asia

US May Seek UN Debate on North Korean Uranium Program

A senior U.S. diplomat says the United States will seek an opportunity to challenge North Korea's right to a uranium enrichment program at the United Nations.

James Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, said during an interview in South Korea Wednesday that North Korea is "not entitled to a uranium enrichment program even though they claim it is for peaceful purposes."

Asked whether Washington was prepared to push the issue in the United Nations Security Council, Steinberg said the U.S. government will look for every opportunity, including at "the Security Council and elsewhere to address this."

During the interview, which was taped for broadcast by South Korea's KBS television, he also said there are "a variety of platforms, including the Security Council, where we can make the point."

Steinberg's comments were made after meeting with South Korea’s president and other officials earlier Wednesday to discuss the likely resumption of talks  between Seoul and Pyongyang.

After discussions with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Steinberg said the tight relationship between Washington and Seoul appears to have forced Pyongyang to seek new dialogue.

"The strong coordination and cooperation between the United States and South Korea, both on the military and the political level has sent a strong message to North Korea that they're not going to achieve their objectives through intimidation, through coercion,” said Steinberg.  “And that on the contrary, that all they will do is deepen their isolation and lead to even more effective implementation of the measures that we have adopted in response to previous provocations."

The two discussed the recent joint statement by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. It expressed concern about North Korea’s uranium enrichment program and called for “sincere and constructive dialogue” between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The foreign minister told Steinberg the comments were much appreciated here in Seoul.

"Based on that summit outcome I hope that we can continue our cooperation and coordination in dealing with North Korea," Kim said.

Kim also welcomed President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he pledged to stand with Seoul and called on Pyongyang to fulfill its commitments to abandon nuclear weapons.

Last week, North Korea proposed restarting military talks with South Korea, and on Wednesday Seoul suggested a preliminary round on February 11.

The meeting would be the first since North Korea shelled a South Korean island in November, killing four people. Last March a South Korean warship exploded and sank in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors.

North Korea has not acknowledged involvement, although an international investigation concluded a North Korean torpedo hit the ship.

Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae Sung urges Pyongyang to agree to separate talks about its nuclear weapons.

Chun says Pyongyang should respond positively to the call for talks on ending its nuclear programs.

The ministry, however, is not sending a formal telegram to North Korea asking for separate nuclear talks.

North Korea previously has refused to discuss that matter directly with the South. Pyongyang says its nuclear weapons are intended to deter a U.S. invasion, thus the issue should be discussed directly between Pyongyang and Washington.

The U.S. government maintains that Seoul and Pyongyang must meet first before six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear program can resume.

Pyongyang quit those talks in 2009, because of United Nations censure for its missile testing. North Korea in 2005 had agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs