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At the recent meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations Regional Forum, many participant countries expressed concerns over North Korea’s recent firing of missiles, development of its nuclear weapons programs, and proliferation.
The international community’s response has been unequivocal and nearly unanimous, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, leading to a new consensus around a common set of principles.
"The United States and its allies and partners," said Secretary Clinton, "cannot accept a North Korea that tries to maintain nuclear weapons to launch ballistic missiles or to proliferate nuclear materials. And we are committed to the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner."
United Nations resolution 1874 provides a powerful tool to deal with North Korea’s unacceptable activities, and prevent proliferation activities by individuals and entities connected to the regime’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and other weapons of mass destruction-related programs.
"If North Korea intends to engage in international commerce," said Secretary Clinton, "its vessels must conform to the terms of 1874 or find no port. Our goal in enforcing these sanctions and others imposed earlier," she said, "is not to create suffering or to destabilize North Korea. Our quarrel in not with the North Korean people. In fact, it was the North Korean leadership that rejected humanitarian aid from the United States and forced us to suspend our food aid program."
The United States is open to talks with North Korea, "but we are not interested in half measures," said Secretary Clinton. "We do not intend to reward the North for simply returning to the table. We will not give them anything new for actions they have already agreed to take," said Secretary Clinton.
Talks must lead to irreversible and verifiable steps by North Korea to denuclearize. This in turn would make possible full normalization of relations, a permanent peace regime, and significant energy and economic assistance. "The path is open," said Secretary Clinton, "and it is up to North Korea to take it."