Rice, Rumsfeld Discuss Nuclear North Korea
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2006 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday reaffirmed U.S. resolve to use “the full range of our commitments, including our deterrent commitments,” to defend Japan and South Korea.
Rice spoke to reporters aboard an aircraft taking her to meetings in Asia. She will meet with leaders in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, and discuss options in trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
Rice said she and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had done work in assuring the U.S. alliances with countries in the region were ready for the 21st century. Rice went to Asia following the U.N. Security Council vote to impose sanctions on North Korea. She will consult with allies to see how the sanctions may be enforced.
Speculation abounds that North Korea is planning another underground nuclear test. U.S. officials would not confirm that they have seen preparations. Following a meeting yesterday with Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, Rumsfeld said that only time will tell if North Korea is readying another test.
“We’ve seen them do things in multiples rather than singles,” Rumsfeld said. “And of course, very recently they fired off some missiles – six or eight, as I recall, shorter range -- and then the Taepo Dong II. There is speculation that they might want to do something additional. There’s also speculation they may not.”
Rice said it is important to talk with all parties in the region about how the United States will carry out its obligations under the U.N. Security Council resolution. “There are obligations for sanctions on North Korea,” she said. “There are also obligations to inspect certain cargoes. It is extremely important to recognize that this is a set of obligations under (the resolution) that I think all states are determined to carry out.”
Rice emphasized that the United States has no desire to see the crisis escalate. “In fact, it is our goal to see a de-escalation of this despite North Korea's actions,” the secretary said. “But North Korea now needs to understand that the international community has spoken, the international community has said that it is unacceptable for North Korea to have a nuclear program, that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula remains the goal of the international community; and so enforcing 1718 so that the North understands that it has no other option but to return to negotiations is extremely important.”