U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says "painful" sanctions against
North Korea may be the only way to peacefully end its nuclear program.
Speaking to a summit of Asian defense leaders in Singapore, he also
urged Asian support for Afghanistan.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert
Gates criticized North Korea Saturday for recklessly pursuing nuclear
and missile capabilities while many of its people starved.
North Korea on Monday exploded a nuclear device and tested a series of missiles in defiance of the international community.
told Asian defense officials they were all familiar with North Korea's
tactic of creating a crisis and then demanding payment to end the
He said the United States and its allies were still open to dialogue with North Korea, but would not bend to provocation.
He said if North Korea would not conform to international norms, "painful" sanctions would be needed to end the nuclear program.
will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak
destruction on any target in the region or on us. At the end of the
day, the choice to continue as a destitute, international pariah or
chart a new course is North Korea's alone to make. The world is
waiting," he said.
Gates was speaking in Singapore at the
Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual meeting of Asian defense ministers and
experts on the region.
This year's meeting has been dominated by concerns about how to deal with a nuclear North Korea.
about the U.S. role in Asia, Gates told the conference Washington's
commitment to its allies was as strong as ever, but that greater
multilateral cooperation was needed to deal with both old and new
challenges to security.
Gates met Saturday afternoon with his
counterparts from Japan and South Korea. The three sides pledged a
common response to North Korea's actions.
Aside from so-called "rogue" nations like North Korea, he said Asia was also under threat from extremists.
in Asia have engaged in terrorist acts such as in Bali, terrorist
activity and guerrilla warfare in Mindanao, and they have plotted
attacks in several Southeast Asian nations," he said. "They are
inspired by and at times receive support directly from groups operating
along the Afghan-Pakistani border ... Failure in a place like Afghanistan
would have international reverberations. And, undoubtedly many of them
would be felt in this part of the world."
Gates said he would
like to see more Asian support for funding Afghanistan's security and
building the country's institutions. He said there was a great need in
Afghanistan for civilian experts, which he would like to see more Asian
Gates applauded intelligence sharing on
violent extremists in Asia, which he said had led to fewer terrorist
attacks. He also commended cooperation in Asian seas against piracy and
arms and drugs smuggling.