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Bush: U.S. Chooses Diplomacy to Resolve North Korea Nuke Issue

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2006 – The United States is working with regional powers to find a diplomatic solution to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, President Bush told reporters at a White House news conference today.

The North Korean government announced over the weekend it had test-exploded a nuclear weapon. U.S. and other governments have been working to confirm North Korea’s claim.

A nuclear North Korea “constitutes a threat to international peace and stability,” Bush said to reporters at the Rose Garden gathering.

Bush said he’s working with senior Chinese, Japanese, South Korean and Russian officials, as well as the United Nations Security Council, “to ensure there are serious repercussions” for the North Korean government in its apparent decision to test a nuclear bomb. North Korea had previously pledged it would jettison its nuclear program.

“We all agree that there must be a strong Security Council resolution that will require North Korea to abide by its international commitments to dismantle its nuclear programs,” Bush said.

Such resolutions, the president said, should prohibit North Korea from exporting nuclear or missile technologies and prevent it from making financial transactions or asset transfers to develop nuclear-tipped missiles.

In September 2005, after discussions with the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan, Bush recalled, North Korea had agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in exchange for normalizing relations with the U.S. and Japan.

“With its actions this week, North Korea has once again chosen to reject a prospect for a better future offered by the six-party joint statement,” Bush said, noting North Korea has instead “opted to raise tensions in the region.”

The United States remains committed to diplomacy to resolve the North Korean nuke issue, Bush said. But America and its allies will also cooperate to bolster their ballistic missile defenses to guard against potential North Korean aggression, the president said.

The United States and its allies seek a peaceful and secure Northeast Asia and a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, Bush said, noting the United States will work with its partners and the U.N. to achieve those goals. “And together we will ensure that North Korea understands the consequences if it continues down its current path,” he said.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Bush was asked about possible military options that could be used against North Korea. The president responded that the diplomatic track hadn’t run its course.

“And, we’ll continue working to make sure that we give diplomacy a full opportunity to succeed,” he said.

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