OTD in History… June 27, 1950, President Truman orders American troops to fight in the Korean War

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OTD in History… June 27, 1950, President Truman orders American troops to fight in the Korean War

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Communities Digital News

On this day in history, June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman gives a statement and orders the United States air and naval military troops to Democratic South Korea to defend them as part of a United Nations military effort after Communist North Korea invaded it two days prior on June 25, 1950, Korean time. After World War II Korea had been divided between North and South by the 38th parallel. Truman sent American troops under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who would be Commander of the U.N. forces, 15 nations fighting against North Korea. Truman’s decision came after United Nations Security Council condemned North Korea’s invasion with a 9–0 vote on June 26 and supported the Democratic Republic of Korea. On June 28, the UN voted to use force against North Korea and June 30, Truman committed ground troops to the conflict. Congress did not pass a war resolution but did extend the draft and allowed the president to call up reservists.

Truman’s decision was the first time the American history a president would send troops to a foreign conflict without Congress passing a declaration of war. Truman noted he did not need to because speaking of Congress he said, “They are all with me.” As historian Larry Blomstedt indicates in his book, Truman, Congress, and Korea: The Politics of America’s First Undeclared War, explains the Koran War is “historically crucial. Korea began a trend of American presidents deploying significant numbers of troops overseas without obtaining a declaration of war from Congress.” The conflict increased the power of the president.

Sending troops was also part of the post-World War II strategy of “Containment” containing the spread of Communism in the world, and part of the 1947 Truman Doctrine of foreign policy having the US intervening in foreign conflicts that do not directly involve the country. As Truman stated to the public on June 27, “Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war.” The front line of fighting Communism shifted from Europe to Asia. Truman declared that the spread of Communism in the strategic Korean peninsula was a threat to national security. The Korean War would last three years and for most veterans considered as the “forgotten war.” It was the first American conflict with no clear-cut victory or peace, only an armistice signed July 27, 1953, with 36,516 American troops killed in the war. The boundary line altered slightly with both sides gaining territory but a continued military presence was necessary.

Recently, nuclear tensions between North Korea and the US increased under President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. A result of the escalation and Trump’s bully diplomacy, North and Korea had a rapprochement and signed an agreement with the intention to make finally a peace agreement, 65 years after the armistice was signed. The US and North Korea are also making historic headway, with Trump becoming the first American president to meet with a North Korean leader. At their Singapore summit on June 12, the two leaders signed an agreement to denuclearize North Korea, a giant step towards finally ending the Korean War.

READ MORE

Blomstedt, Larry. Truman, Congress, and Korea: The Politics of America’s First Undeclared War. Lexington, Kentucky The University Press of Kentucky, 2016.

Brands, H W. The General Vs. the President: Macarthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War. New York : Anchor Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017.

Wainstock, Dennis. Truman, Macarthur, and the Korean War. New York, NY: Enigma Books, 2011.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Statement by the President on the Situation in Korea
June 27, 1950

IN KOREA the Government forces, which were armed to prevent border raids and to preserve internal security, were attacked by invading forces from North Korea. The Security Council of the United Nations called upon the invading troops to cease hostilities and to withdraw to the 38th parallel. This they have not done, but on the contrary have pressed the attack. The Security Council called upon all members of the United Nations to render every assistance to the United Nations in the execution of this resolution. In these circumstances I have ordered United States air and sea forces to give the Korean Government troops cover and support.

The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war. It has defied the orders of the Security Council of the United Nations issued to preserve international peace and security. In these circumstances the occupation of Formosa by Communist forces would be a direct threat to the security of the Pacific area and to United States forces performing their lawful and necessary functions in that area.

Accordingly I have ordered the 7th Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa. As a corollary of this action I am calling upon the Chinese Government on Formosa to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland. The 7th Fleet will see that this is done. The determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations.

I have also directed that United States Forces in the Philippines be strengthened and that military assistance to the Philippine Government be accelerated.

I have similarly directed acceleration in the furnishing of military assistance to the forces of France and the Associated States in Indochina and the dispatch of a military mission to provide dose working relations with those forces.

I know that all members of the United Nations will consider carefully the consequences of this latest aggression in Korea in defiance of the Charter of the United Nations. A return to the rule of force in international affairs would have far-reaching effects. The United States will continue to uphold the rule of law.

I have instructed Ambassador Austin, as the representative of the United States to the Security Council, to report these steps to the Council.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Obama and Republic of Korea President Park’s Remarks before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and President Park of the Republic of Korea before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 4-25-14 

Blue House
Seoul, Republic of Korea

4:21 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I would like to thank President Park for welcoming me here today.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to come back to the Republic of Korea.  But I am very mindful that my visit comes at a time of deep mourning for the people of this nation and I know that President Park and the South Korean government are focused on responding to the tragedy of the ferry Sewol.

In our press conference later, President Park and I will have the opportunity to address a range of issues that we’ll be discussing here today.  But for now, I just wanted to express on behalf of the American people our deepest sympathies for the incredible and tragic loss that’s taken place.  As allies but also as friends, we join you in mourning the lost and the missing, and especially so many young people, students who represented the vitality and the future of this nation.

So, President Park, I thought that it would be appropriate and fitting for us to begin today by honoring the lost and the missing.  And our delegation, out of respect, would appreciate the opportunity to join together in a moment of silence.

(Moment of silence.)

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much for making this proposal to hold a moment of silence for the victims of the ferry Sewol.  Right after the tragic accident, you personally expressed your condolences and your sympathies, and you were unsparing in providing active U.S. assistance, including the dispatch of salvage vessels.  The Korean people draw great strength and courage from your kindness.

Just as the American people were able to rally together in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and were able to prevail over difficult times, so, too, I am sure that Korean people will, in fact, pull through this moment of crisis and be able to achieve the renewal of the Republic of Korea.

Mr. President, my sincere welcome to you once again on your visit to Korea, and may our summit meeting today kick off the next 60 years and produce very meaningful results that allow us to do so.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, thank you, President Park.  The Republic of Korea is one of our strongest allies in the world.  I’m looking forward to our discussion and to reaffirming America’s unshakeable commitment to South Korea and its security.

One last point I wanted to make — I have with me this American flag that I believe our protocol people have.  In the United States, we have a tradition — after the loss of our servicemembers and veterans, we present a flag in their honor to their loved ones.  This flag was flown over the White House the same day as the sinking of the Sewol.  And in that spirit, I’m presenting this American flag to you and the people of the Republic of Korea on behalf of the American people.  It reflects our deep condolences, but also our solidarity with you during this difficult time, and our great pride in calling you an ally and a friend.

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, thank you so much again for sharing in our sorrow, the sorrow of the Korean people as well as the bereaved families, and for your gracious gesture.

END
4:30 P.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Remarks by President Obama at Naturalization Ceremony for Servicemembers

Source: WH, 4-25-14

The War Memorial of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea

1:28 P.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, good afternoon.  Annyeonghaseyo.  It is an honor to be here at the War Memorial of Korea.  In a few moments, I’ll lay a wreath to pay tribute to our servicemembers who’ve given their lives in defense of our freedom.  And tomorrow, I’ll address our troops and civilians at Yongsan Garrison.

I have said before, I have no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.  And today, I can think of no higher privilege than being here with all of you and your families for this special moment — becoming the newest citizens of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.

I know that each of you have traveled your own path to this moment.  You come from 14 different countries.  Some of you have called Seoul home.  But a day came when each one of you did something extraordinary:  Thirteen of you made the profound decision to put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own.  Seven of you married an American soldier -– and as a military spouse, that means you’ve been serving our country, too.

If there’s anything that this should teach us, it’s that America is strengthened by our immigrants.  I had a chance to talk to our Ambassador and our Commander here, and I said to them that there’s no greater strength, no greater essence of America than the fact that we attract people from all around the world who want to be part of our democracy.  We are a nation of immigrants — people from every corner, every walk of life, who picked up tools to help build our country, who started up businesses to advance our country, who took up arms to defend our country.

What makes us Americans is something more than just the circumstances of birth, what we look like, what God we worship, but rather it is a joyful spirit of citizenship.  Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.  And few embody that more than our men and women in uniform.

If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest, the smartest and the most selfless the world has to offer, then we have to keep this in mind:  the value of our immigrants to our way of life.  It is central to who we are; it’s in our DNA.  It’s part of our creed.  And that means moving forward we’ve got to fix our broken immigration system and pass common-sense immigration reform.

This is a huge advantage to us — the talent that we attract.  We don’t want to make it harder; we want to make it more sensible, more efficient.  That’s why I’m going to keep on pushing to get this done this year, so that others like the young men and women here have the opportunity to join our American family and serve our great nation.

Today, I’m thrilled that, in a few moments, I’ll get to call each of you my fellow Americans.  I am so proud to be sharing this stage with you today.  Congratulations.  But I don’t want to talk too long because I’m not the main event.  Thank you very much for your service.  (Applause.)

END
1:32 P.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency May 7, 2013: President Barack Obama & South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye’s Remarks at a Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Meets with President Park of South Korea

Source: WH, 5-7-13

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Park Geun-hye

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea, in the Oval Office, May 7, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Watch this video on YouTube

Today, President Obama welcomed President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea to the White House to mark 60 years of bilateral partnership between our two nations.

Established following the Korean War, the US-ROK Alliance is a linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the Asia Pacific region. And today, the two leaders affirmed that they would continue building on the past six decades of stability by strengthening and adapting the alliance to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.

“Guided by our joint vision, we’re investing in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together,” President Obama said. “And we’re determined to be fully prepared for any challenge or threat to our security.”

President Obama and President Park also agreed to continue implementing the historic trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, which is already yielding benefits for both countries, President Obama said….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Park of South Korea in a Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 5-7-13 

East Room

1:44 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Please have a seat.

Let me begin by saying it is a great pleasure to welcome President Park and our friends from the Republic of Korea.  Madam President, we are greatly honored that you’ve chosen the United States as your first foreign visit.  This, of course, reflects the deep friendship between our peoples and the great alliance between our nations, which is marking another milestone.  I’m told that in Korea, a 60th birthday is a special celebration of life and longevity — a hwangap.  (Laughter.)    Well, this year, we’re marking the 60th anniversary of the defense treaty between our nations.

Yesterday, President Park visited Arlington National Cemetery and our memorial to our Korean War veterans.  Tonight, she’s hosting a dinner to pay tribute to the generation of American veterans who have served in the defense of South Korea. And tomorrow she’ll address a joint session of Congress — an honor that is reserved for our closest of friends.

And in this sense, this visit also reflects South Korea’s extraordinary progress over these six decades.  From the ashes of war, to one of the world’s largest economies; from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor that now helps other nations develop.  And of course, around the world, people are being swept up by Korean culture — the Korean Wave.  And as I mentioned to President Park, my daughters have taught me a pretty good Gangnam Style.  (Laughter.)

President Park, in your first months in office South Korea has faced threats and provocations that would test any nation.  Yet you’ve displayed calm and steady resolve that has defined your life.  Like people around the world, those of us in the United States have also been inspired by your example as the first female President of South Korea.  And today I’ve come to appreciate the leadership qualities for which you are known — your focus and discipline and straight-forwardness.  And I very much thank you for the progress that we’ve already made together.

Today, we agreed to continue the implementation of our historic trade agreement, which is already yielding benefits for both our countries.  On our side, we’re selling more exports to Korea — more manufactured goods, more services, more agricultural products.  Even as we have a long way to go, our automobile exports are up nearly 50 percent, and our Big Three — Ford, Chrysler and GM — are selling more cars in Korea.  And as President Park and I agreed to make sure that we continue to fully implement this agreement, we believe that it’s going to make both of our economies more competitive.  It will boost U.S. exports by some $10 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs.  And obviously it will be creating jobs in Korea as they are able to continue to do extraordinary work in expanding their economy and moving it further and further up the value chain.

We agreed to continue the clean energy partnerships that help us to enhance our energy security and address climate change.  Given the importance of a peaceful nuclear energy industry to South Korea, we recently agreed to extend the existing civilian nuclear agreement between our two countries — but we also emphasized in our discussions the need to continue to work diligently towards a new agreement.  As I told the President, I believe that we can find a way to support South Korea’s energy and commercial needs even as we uphold our mutual commitments to prevent nuclear proliferation.

We agreed to continuing modernizing our security alliance.  Guided by our joint vision, we’re investing in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together.  We are on track for South Korea to assume operational control for the alliance in 2015.  And we’re determined to be fully prepared for any challenge or threat to our security.  And obviously that includes the threat from North Korea.

If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States, or somehow garner the North international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again.  President Park and South Koreans have stood firm, with confidence and resolve.  The United States and the Republic of Korea are as united as ever.  And faced with new international sanctions, North Korea is more isolated than ever. In short, the days when North Korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions — those days are over.

Our two nations are prepared to engage with North Korea diplomatically and, over time, build trust.  But as always — and as President Park has made clear — the burden is on Pyongyang to take meaningful steps to abide by its commitments and obligations, particularly the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

And we discussed that Pyongyang should take notice of events in countries like Burma, which, as it reforms, is seeing more trade and investment and diplomatic ties with the world, including the United States and South Korea.

For our part, we’ll continue to coordinate closely with South Korea and with Japan.  And I want to make clear the United States is fully prepared and capable of defending ourselves and our allies with the full range of capabilities available, including the deterrence provided by our conventional and nuclear forces.  As I said in Seoul last year, the commitment of the United States to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.

More broadly, we agreed to continue expanding our cooperation globally.  In Afghanistan — where our troops serve together and where South Korea is a major donor of development assistance — we’re on track to complete the transition to Afghan-led operations by the end of next year.  We discussed Syria, where both our nations are working to strengthen the opposition and plan for a Syria without Bashar Assad.  And I’m pleased that our two nations — and our Peace Corps — have agreed to expand our efforts to promote development around the world.

Finally, we’re expanding the already strong ties between our young people.  As an engineer by training, President Park knows the importance of education.  Madam President, you’ve said — and I’m quoting you — “We live in an age where a single individual can raise the value of an entire nation.”  I could not agree more.  So I’m pleased that we’re renewing exchange programs that bring our students together.  And as we pursue common-sense immigration reform here in the United States, we want to make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs and foreign graduate students from countries like Korea to stay and contribute to our country, just as so many Korean Americans already do.

So, again, thank you, President Park, for making the United States your first foreign trip.  In your inaugural address you celebrated the “can do” spirit of the Korean people.  That is a spirit that we share.  And after our meeting today, I’m confident that if our two nations continue to stand together, there’s nothing we cannot do together.

So, Madam President, welcome to the United States.

PRESIDENT PARK:  (As interpreted.)  Let me start by thanking President Obama for his invitation and his gracious hospitality.

During my meeting with the President today, I was able to have a heart-to-heart talk with him on a wide range of common interests.  I found that the two us of have a broad common view about the vision and roles that should guide the Korea-U.S. alliance as it moves forward, and I was delighted to see this.

First of all, the President and I shared the view that the Korea-U.S. alliance has been faithfully carrying out its role as a bulwark of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and that the alliance should continue to serve as a linchpin for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Asia.  In this regard, I believe it is significant that the joint declaration on the 60th anniversary of our alliance we adopted spells out the direction that our comprehensive strategic alliance should take.

Next, the President and I reaffirmed that we will by no means tolerate North Korea’s threats and provocations, which have recently been escalating further, and that such actions would only deepen North Korea’s isolation.  The President and I noted that it is important that we continue to strengthen our deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and conventional weapons threat, and shared the view that in this respect, the transition of wartime operational control should also proceed in a way that strengthens our combined defense capabilities and preparations being made toward that way as well.

We also shared the view that realizing President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons should start on the Korean Peninsula and we stated that we would continue to strongly urge North Korea, in close concert with the other members of the Six-Party talks and the international community, to faithfully abide by its international obligations under the September 19th Joint Statement and the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Korea and the U.S. will work jointly to induce North Korea to make the right choice through multifaceted efforts, including the implementation of the Korean Peninsula trust-building process that I had spelled out.

I take this opportunity to once again send a clear message: North Korea will not be able to survive if it only clings to developing its nuclear weapons at the expense of its people’s happiness.  Concurrently pursuing nuclear arsenals and economic development can by no means succeed.

This is the shared view of the view of the other members of the Six-Party talks and the international community.  However, should North Korea choose the path to becoming a responsible member of the community of nations, we are willing to provide assistance, together with the international community.

We also had meaningful discussions on the economy and ways to engage in substantive cooperation.  The President and I welcome the fact that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect one year ago, is contributing to our shared prosperity.  We also said we will make efforts to enable our people to better feel the benefits of our free trade agreement for them.

I highlighted the importance of securing high-skilled U.S. work visas for Korean citizens, and asked for executive branch support to the extent possible to see to it that the relevant legislation is passed in the U.S. Congress.

Moreover, we arrived at the view that the Korea-U.S. Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement should be revised into an advanced and mutually beneficial successor agreement.  We said we would do our best to conclude our negotiations as soon as possible.

The President and I also had in-depth discussions on ways to enhance our global partnership.  First, we noted together that Northeast Asia needs to move beyond conflict and divisions and open a new era of peace and cooperation, and that there would be synergy between President’s Obama’s policy of rebalancing to Asia and my initiative for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia as we pursue peace and development in the region.  We shared the view about playing the role of co-architects to flesh out this vision.

Furthermore, we decided that the Korea-U.S. alliance should deal not just with challenges relating to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, but confronting the broader international community.

I am very delighted that I was able to build personal trust with President Obama through our summit meeting today, and to have laid a framework for cooperation.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All right, we’ve got a couple of questions from each side, so we’ll start with Stephen Collinson of AFP.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Does the United States have a core national security interest in stopping the slaughter in Syria, or merely a strong moral desire to see the violence end?  And at what point does the cost of not intervening in a more direct way than you have done so far outweigh the cost of doing so?

And if I may ask, President Park, President Obama’s critics have warned that failing to act on perceived violations of U.S. red lines in Syria could embolden U.S. enemies elsewhere, including in North Korea.  Are you convinced that Kim Jong-un has taken the U.S. and South Korean warnings seriously, and do you see the withdrawal of two missiles from a test site as a sign that he’s willing to deescalate the situation?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Stephen, I think that we have both a moral obligation and a national security interest in, A, ending the slaughter in Syria, but, B, also ensuring that we’ve got a stable Syria that is representative of all the Syrian people, and is not creating chaos for its neighbors.  And that’s why for the last two years we have been active in trying to ensure that Bashar Assad exits the stage, and that we can begin a political transition process.

That’s the reason why we’ve invested so much in humanitarian aid.  That’s the reason why we are so invested in helping the opposition; why we’ve mobilized the international community to isolate Syria.  That’s why we are now providing nonlethal assistance to the opposition, and that’s why we’re going to continue to do the work that we need to do.

And in terms of the costs and the benefits, I think there would be severe costs in doing nothing.  That’s why we’re not doing nothing.  That’s why we are actively invested in the process.  If what you’re asking is, are there continuing reevaluations about what we do, what actions we take in conjunction with other international partners to optimize the day when — or to hasten the day when we can see a better situation in Syria — we’ve been doing that all along and we’ll continue to do that.

I think that, understandably, there is a desire for easy answers.  That’s not the situation there.  And my job is to constantly measure our very real and legitimate humanitarian and national security interests in Syria, but measuring those against my bottom line, which is what’s in the best interest of America’s security and making sure that I’m making decisions not based on a hope and a prayer, but on hard-headed analysis in terms of what will actually make us safer and stabilize the region.

I would note — not to answer the question that you lobbed over to President Park — that you suggested even in your question a perceived crossing of a red line.  The operative word there, I guess, Stephen, is “perceived.”  And what I’ve said is that we have evidence that there has been the use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, but I don’t make decisions based on “perceived.”  And I can’t organize international coalitions around “perceived.”  We’ve tried that in the past, by the way, and it didn’t work out well.

So we want to make sure that we have the best analysis possible.  We want to make sure that we are acting deliberately. But I would just point out that there have been several instances during the course of my presidency where I said I was going to do something and it ended up getting done.  And there were times when there were folks on the sidelines wondering why hasn’t it happened yet and what’s going on and why didn’t it go on tomorrow?  But in the end, whether it’s bin Laden or Qaddafi, if we say we’re taking a position, I would think at this point the international community has a pretty good sense that we typically follow through on our commitments.

PRESIDENT PARK:  With regard to actions toward Syria, what kind of message would that communicate to North Korea? — that was the question.  And recently North Korea seems to be deescalating its threats and provocations — what seems to be behind that?  You asked these two questions.  In fact, North Korea is isolated at the moment, so it’s hard to find anyone that could really accurately fathom the situation in North Korea.  Its actions are all so very unpredictable.  Hence, whether the Syrian situation would have an impact is hard to say for sure.

Why is North Korea appearing to deescalate its threats and provocations?  There’s no knowing for sure.  But what is clear and what I believe for sure is that the international community with regard to North Korea’s bad behavior, its provocations, must speak with one voice — a firm message, and consistently send a firm message that they will not stand, and that North Korea’s actions in breach of international norms will be met with so-and-so sanctions and measures by the international community.  At the same time, if it goes along the right way, there will be so-and-so rewards.  So if we consistently send that message to North Korea, I feel that North Korea will be left with no choice but to change.

And instead of just hoping to see North Korea change, the international community must also consistently send that message with one voice to tell them and communicate to them that they have no choice but to change, and to shape an environment where they are left with no choice but to make the strategic decision to change.  And I think that’s the effective and important way.

Q    My question goes to President Park.  You just mentioned that North Korea — in order to induce North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, what is most important is the concerted actions of the international community.  With regard to this, during your meeting with President Obama today, I would like to ask what was said and the views that you shared.  And with regard to this, what Russia and China — the role that they’re playing in terms of inducing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, how do you feel about that?

My next question is to President Obama.  Regarding the young leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, I would appreciate your views about the leader of North Korea.  And if you were to send a message to him today, what kind of message would you send to him?
PRESIDENT PARK:  With regard to the North Korea issue, Korea and the United States, as well as the international community — the ultimate objective that all of us should be adopting is for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and to induce it to become a responsible member of the international community.  This serves the interest of peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world, and it also serves the interest of North Korea’s own development as well.  That is my view.

And so, in order to encourage North Korea to walk that path and change its perceptions, we have to work in concert.  And in this regard, China’s role, China’s influence can be extensive, so China taking part in these endeavors is important.  And we shared views on that.

With regard to China and Russia’s stance, I believe that China and Russia — not to mention the international community, of course — share the need for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and are cooperating closely to induce North Korea to take the right path.  In the case of China, with regard to North Korea’s missile fire and nuclear testing, China has taken an active part in adopting U.N. Security Council resolutions and is faithfully implementing those resolutions.

And with regard to Russia, Russia is also firmly committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  And with regard to the adoption of U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea, it has been very active in supporting them.  And they’ve also worked very hard to include a stern message to North Korea in the joint statement of the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting.  Such constructive efforts on the part of China and Russia are vital to sending a unified message to North Korea that their nuclear weapons will not stand, and encouraging and urging North Korea to make the right decision.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Obviously, I don’t know Kim Jong-un personally.  I haven’t had a conversation with him, can’t really give you an opinion about his personal characteristics.  What we do know is the actions that he’s taken have been provocative and seem to pursue a dead end.

And I want to emphasize, President Park and myself very much share the view that we are going to maintain a strong deterrent capability; that we’re not going to reward provocative behavior. But we remain open to the prospect of North Korea taking a peaceful path of denuclearization, abiding by international commitments, rejoining the international community, and seeing a gradual progression in which both security and prosperity for the people of North Korea can be achieved.

If what North Korea has been doing has not resulted in a strong, prosperous nation, then now is a good time for
Kim Jong-un to evaluate that history and take a different path.  And I think that, should he choose to take a different path, not only President Park and myself would welcome it, but the international community as a whole would welcome it.

And I think that China and Russia and Japan and other key players that have been participants in Six-Party talks have made that clear.  But there’s going to have to be changes in behavior. We have an expression in English:  Don’t worry about what I say; watch what I do.  And so far at least, we haven’t seen actions on the part of the North Koreans that would indicate they’re prepared to move in a different direction.

Christi Parsons.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The Pentagon said today that there may be as many as 70 sexual assaults a day in the military — up by 35 percent during your term in office — and also that many sexual assaults may not be reported, in fact.  Given what we know about an Air Force officer in charge of preventing sexual assault recently being charged with sexual assault, and also the recent cases of a couple of Air Force generals who’ve set aside convictions of instances of sexual assault, can you speak to the culture in the U.S. military that may be at play here and talk about your response to that and what you can do going forward to improve things?

And if I may, President Park, I would ask you — yesterday you said that if North Korea does not change its behavior, we will make them pay.  I wondered if you could elaborate on that comment a little bit.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let’s start with the principle that sexual assault is an outrage; it is a crime.  That’s true for society at large.  And if it’s happening inside our military, then whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform that they’re wearing.  And they may consider themselves patriots, but when you engage in this kind of behavior that’s not patriotic — it’s a crime.  And we have to do everything we can to root this out.

Now, this is not a new phenomenon.  One of the things that we’ve been trying to do is create a structure in which we’re starting to get accurate reporting.  And up and down the chain, we are seeing a process, a system of accountability and transparency so that we can root this out completely.

And this is a discussion that I had with Secretary Panetta. He had begun the process of moving this forward.  But I have directly spoken to Secretary Hagel already today and indicating to him that we’re going to have to not just step up our game, we have to exponentially step up our game, to go at this thing hard.

And for those who are in uniform who have experienced sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their Commander-In-Chief that I’ve got their backs.  I will support them.  And we’re not going to tolerate this stuff and there will be accountability.  If people have engaged in this behavior, they should be prosecuted.

And anybody in the military who has knowledge of this stuff should understand this is not who we are.  This is not what the U.S. military is about.  And it dishonors the vast majority of men and women in uniform who carry out their responsibilities and obligations with honor and dignity and incredible courage every single day.

So bottom line is I have no tolerance for this.  I have communicated this to the Secretary of Defense.  We’re going to communicate this again to folks up and down the chain in areas of authority, and I expect consequences.

So I don’t want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way.  If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged.  Period.  It’s not acceptable.

PRESIDENT PARK:  Regarding North Korea’s provocations and bad behavior, we will make them pay — with regard to that, for instance, what I meant was that if they engage in military provocations and harm the lives of our people and the safety of our people, then naturally, as a President who gives the top priority to ensuring the safety of our people, it is something that we can’t just pass over.

So if North Korea engages in provocations, I will fully trust the judgment of our military.  So if our military makes a judgment which they feel is the right thing, then they should act accordingly.  And this is the instruction that I had made.

And North Korea has to pay a price when it comes not only with regard to provocations, but also with regard to the recent Kaesong industrial complex issue, where, based on agreements between the two sides, companies had believed in the agreement that was made and actually went to invest in the Kaesong industrial complex, but they suddenly completely dismissed and disregarded this agreement overnight, and denied various medical supplies and food supplies to Korean citizens left in that industrial complex, refusing to accept our request to allow in those supplies, which is what prompted us to withdraw all of our citizens from that park.  This situation unfolded in the full view of the international community.

So who would invest, not to mention Korean companies, but also companies of other countries, who would invest in North Korea in a place that shows such flagrant disregard for agreements, and how could they, under those circumstances, actually pull off economic achievement?  So I think in this regard, they’re actually paying the price for their own misdeeds.

Q    My question goes to President Obama.  President Park has been talking about the Korean Peninsula trust-building process as a way to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.  I wonder what you feel about this trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, as I indicated before, President Park’s approach is very compatible with my approach and the approach that we have been taking together for several years now. And I understand it, the key is that we will be prepared for a deterrence; that we will respond to aggression; that we will not reward provocative actions; but that we will maintain an openness to an engagement process when we see North Korea taking steps that would indicate that it is following a different path.  And that’s exactly the right approach.

All of us would benefit from a North Korea that transformed itself.  Certainly, the people of North Korea would benefit.  South Korea would be even stronger in a less tense environment on the peninsula.  All the surrounding neighbors would welcome such a transition, such a transformation.  But I don’t think either President Park or I are naïve about the difficulties of that taking place.  And we’ve got to see action before we can have confidence that that, in fact, is the path that North Korea intends to take.

But the one thing I want to emphasize, just based on the excellent meetings and consultation that we had today, as well as watching President Park over the last several months dealing with the provocative escalations that have been taking place in North Korea, what I’m very confident about is President Park is tough. I think she has a very clear, realistic view of the situation, but she also has the wisdom to believe that conflict is not inevitable and is not preferable.  And that’s true on the Korean Peninsula.  That’s true around the world.

And we very much appreciate her visit and look forward to excellent cooperation not only on this issue, but on the more positive issues of economic and commercial ties between our two countries, educational exchanges, work on energy, climate change, helping other countries develop.

I’ve had a wonderful time every time I’ve visited the Republic of Korea.  And what is clear is that the Republic of Korea is one of the great success stories of our lifetime.  And the Republic of Korea’s leadership around the globe will be increasingly important.  And what underpins that in part has been the extraordinary history of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea.  And we want to make sure that that remains a strong foundation for progress in the future.

So, thank you so much, Madam President.  (Applause.)

END
2:20 P.M. EDT

White House Recap March 23-30, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Barack Obama’s South Korea Trip & the Nuclear Security Summit

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: MARCH 23-30, 2012

This week, the President traveled to the Republic of Korea to attend a nuclear security summit. Back at home, the kitchen garden got underway with this year’s first planting.

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: “We Need to Keep at It”

Source: WH, 3-30-12

From Dartmouth to the World Bank: On Friday, the President named Dr. Jim Yong Kim – president of Dartmouth college, co-founder of Partners in Health and global health and development expert – as his choice to head the World Bank. “[Despite] its name, the World Bank is more than just a bank,” the President explained. “It’s one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living in some of the poorest countries in the planet.”

Nuclear Security Summit: Just after midnight on Saturday morning, President Obama boarded Air Force One and departed for a trip to South Korea. His three-day trip included a tour of the DMZ and a meeting with U.S. troops stationed at the border; a talk with students at Hankuk University; and a series of bilateral and trilateral meetings with foreign leaders — including President Hu Jintao of China, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.

All Right, Let’s Plant!: Students and Girl Scouts from across the country joined the First Lady on the South Lawn Monday for a sunny afternoon planting the White House Kitchen Garden.

Big Data, Big Deal: On Thursday, the Obama Administration announced the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative,” which promises to help accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security, and transform teaching and learning.

Facebook Timeline: The White House’s Facebook timeline launched on Friday, now providing both the latest news and a glimpse into history. The timeline highlights special moments from our rich history, including all forty-four presidential inaugurations, FDR’s first “fireside chat,” and the launch of the first White House website.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 25-27, 2012: President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit, Seoul, South Korea & Speech Transcripts

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama in South Korea

Source: WH, 3-25-12

Just after midnight on Saturday morning, President Obama boarded Air Force One and departed for a trip to South Korea. After crossing the International Date Line, he arrived in Seoul for a nuclear security summit.

As part of the trip, the President today got a first hand view of North Korea as he toured to the DMZ and met with U.S. troops stationed on the border. He told the servicemen and women, “Everybody back home could not be prouder of what you guys do each and every day — the dedication, the professionalism that you show.”
President Obama views the DMZ (March 25, 2012)
President Barack Obama is briefed by Lt. Col. Ed Taylor as he views the DMZ from Observation Post Ouellette at Camp Bonifas, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The President also kicked off the three days of diplomacy with a pair of bilateral meetings — with President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea and Prime Minister Erdogan or Turkey.

President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak (March 25, 2012)

President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak participate in a press conference at the Blue House in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Discussing the Global Economy and Nuclear Security in Seoul

Source: WH, 3-26-12

The Korean trade agreement will support an estimated 70,000 jobs

Tomorrow, President Obama will head home from South Korea — after a busy three days of diplomatic meetings and discussions of nuclear security.

At a talk today with students at Hankuk University, the President outlined the reasons why he’s made the issue such a major priority:

We’re building an international architecture that can ensure nuclear safety.  But we’re under no illusions. We know that nuclear material, enough for many weapons, is still being stored without adequate protection. And we know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it — as well as radioactive material for a dirty bomb. We know that just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill hundreds of thousands and spark a global crisis. The danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security. And that’s why here in Seoul, we need to keep at it.

This is the President’s third official visit to South Korea, and as he pointed today, he’s been to Seoul more than any other capital. That fact obviously to speaks the strength of the political relationship between our two nations, but it also highlights our growing economic ties.

That’s why President Obama worked so hard to pass the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement — which will help to support an estimated 70,000 jobs in the years ahead and increase U.S. GDP by at least $11 billion due to increased exports of goods.

The economy was also a topic of discussion in a series of bilateral meetings between President Obama and foreign leaders. Today, he held talks with President Hu Jintao of China, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES









 

Full Text Obama Presidency March 26, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Hankuk University, South Korea on Nuclear Weapons & Iran

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama at Hankuk University

Source: WH, 3-26-12

Seoul, Republic of Korea

10:32 A.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please, thank you very much.

To President Park, faculty, staff and students, thank you so much for this very warm welcome.  It is a great honor to be here at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Dr. Park for, a few moments ago, making me an honorary alumni of the university.  (Applause.)

I know that this school has one of the world’s finest foreign language programs — which means that your English is much better than my Korean.  (Laughter.)  All I can say is, kamsa hamnida.  (Applause.)

Now, this is my third visit to the Republic of Korea as President.  I’ve now been to Seoul more times than any other capital — except for Washington, D.C.,  of course.  This reflects the extraordinary bonds between our two countries and our commitment to each other.  I’m pleased that we’re joined by so many leaders here today, Koreans and Americans, who help keep us free and strong and prosperous every day.  That includes our first Korean-American ambassador to the Republic of Korea — Ambassador Sung Kim.  (Applause.)

I’ve seen the deep connections between our peoples in my own life — among friends, colleagues.  I’ve seen it so many patriotic Korean Americans, including a man born in this city of Seoul, who came to America and has dedicated his life to lifting up the poor and sick of the world.  And last week I was proud to nominate him to lead the World Bank — Dr. Jim Yong Kim.  (Applause.)

I’ve also seen the bonds in our men and women in uniform, like the American and Korean troops I visited yesterday along the DMZ — Freedom’s Frontier.  And we salute their service and are very grateful for them.  We honor all those who have given their lives in our defense, including the 46 brave souls who perished aboard the Cheonan two years ago today.  And in their memory we reaffirm the enduring promise at the core of our alliance — we stand together, and the commitment of the United States to the defense and the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.  (Applause.)

Most of all, I see the strength of our alliance in all of you.  For decades, this school has produced leaders — public servants, diplomats, businesspeople — who’ve helped propel the modern miracle that is Korea– transforming it from crushing poverty to one of the world’s most dynamic economies; from authoritarianism to a thriving democracy; from a country focused inward to a leader for security and prosperity not only in this region but also around the world — a truly “Global Korea.”

So to all the students here today, this is the Korea your generation will inherit.  And I believe there’s no limits to what our two nations can achieve together.  For like your parents and grandparents before you, you know that the future is what we make of it.  And you know that in our digital age, we can connect and innovate across borders like never before — with your smart phones and Twitter and Me2Day and Kakao Talk.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s no wonder so many people around the world have caught the Korean Wave, Hallyu.  (Applause.)

Or consider this:  In advance of my visit, our embassy invited Koreans to send us your questions using social media.  Some of you may have sent questions.  And they called it, “Ask President Obama.”  Now, one of you — maybe it was you, maybe it was somebody else — this is true — asked this question:  “Have you posted, yourself, a supportive opinion on a website under a disguised name, pretending you are one of the supporters of President Obama?”  (Laughter.)  I hadn’t thought of this.  (Laughter.)  But the truth is I have not done this.  Maybe my daughters have.  (Laughter.)  But I haven’t done that myself.

So our shared future — and the unprecedented opportunity to meet shared challenges together — is what brings me to Seoul.  Over the next two days, under President Lee’s leadership, we’ll move ahead with the urgent work of preventing nuclear terrorism by securing the world’s nuclear materials.  This is an important part of the broader, comprehensive agenda that I want to talk with you about today — our vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

Three years ago, I traveled to Prague and I declared America’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and to seeking a world without them.  I said I knew that this goal would not be reached quickly, perhaps not in my lifetime, but I knew we had to begin, with concrete steps.  And in your generation, I see the spirit we need in this endeavor — an optimism that beats in the hearts of so many young people around the world.  It’s that refusal to accept the world as it is, the imagination to see the world as it ought to be, and the courage to turn that vision into reality.  So today, with you, I want to take stock of our journey and chart our next steps.

Here in Seoul, more than 50 nations will mark our progress toward the goal we set at the summit I hosted two years ago in Washington — securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials in four years so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.  And since then, nations — including the United States — have boosted security at nuclear facilities.

South Korea, Japan, Pakistan and others are building new centers to improve nuclear security and training.  Nations like Kazakhstan have moved nuclear materials to more secure locations.  Mexico, and just yesterday Ukraine, have joined the ranks of nations that have removed all the highly enriched uranium from their territory.  All told, thousands of pounds of nuclear material have been removed from vulnerable sites around the world.  This was deadly material that is now secure and can now never be used against a city like Seoul.

We’re also using every tool at our disposal to break up black markets and nuclear material.  Countries like Georgia and Moldova have seized highly enriched uranium from smugglers.  And countries like Jordan are building their own counter-smuggling teams, and we’re tying them together in a global network of intelligence and law enforcement.  Nearly 20 nations have now ratified the treaties and international partnerships that are at the center of our efforts.  And I should add that with the death of Osama bin Laden and the major blows that we’ve struck against al Qaeda, a terrorist organization that has actively sought nuclear weapons is now on the path to defeat.

So in short, the international community has made it harder than ever for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons, and that has made us all safer.  We’re building an international architecture that can ensure nuclear safety.  But we’re under no illusions.  We know that nuclear material, enough for many weapons, is still being stored without adequate protection.  And we know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it — as well as radioactive material for a dirty bomb.  We know that just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill hundreds of thousands and spark a global crisis.  The danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security.

And that’s why here in Seoul, we need to keep at it.  And I believe we will.  We’re expecting dozens of nations to announce over the next several days that they’ve fulfilled the promises they made two years ago.  And we’re now expecting more commitments — tangible, concrete action — to secure nuclear materials and, in some cases, remove them completely.  This is the serious, sustained global effort that we need, and it’s an example of more nations bearing the responsibility and the costs of meeting global challenges.  This is how the international community should work in the 21st century.  And Korea is one of the key leaders in this process.

The United States will continue to do our part — securing our own material and helping others protect theirs.  We’re moving forward with Russia to eliminate enough plutonium for about 17,000 nuclear weapons and turn it instead into electricity.  I can announce today a new agreement by the United States and several European partners toward sustaining the supply of medical isotopes that are used to treat cancer and heart disease without the use of highly enriched uranium.  And we will work with industry and hospitals and research centers in the United States and around the world, to recover thousands of unneeded radiological materials so that they can never do us harm.

Now, American leadership has been essential to progress in a second area — taking concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.  As a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, this is our obligation, and it’s one that I take very seriously.  But I believe the United States has a unique responsibility to act — indeed, we have a moral obligation.  I say this as President of the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons.  I say it as a Commander-in-Chief who knows that our nuclear codes are never far from my side.  Most of all, I say it as a father, who wants my two young daughters to grow up in a world where everything they know and love can’t be instantly wiped out.

Over the past three years, we’ve made important progress.  With Russia, we’re now reducing our arsenal under the New START Treaty — the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly 20 years.  And when we’re done, we will have cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.

As President, I changed our nuclear posture to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.  I made it clear that the United States will not develop new nuclear warheads.  And we will not pursue new military missions for nuclear weapons.  We’ve narrowed the range of contingencies under which we would ever use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.  At the same time, I’ve made it clear that so long as nuclear weapons exist, we’ll work with our Congress to maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal that guarantees the defense not only of the United States but also our allies — including South Korea and Japan.

My administration’s nuclear posture recognizes that the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited to today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism.  So last summer, I directed my national security team to conduct a comprehensive study of our nuclear forces.  That study is still underway.  But even as we have more work to do, we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.  Even after New START, the United States will still have more than 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons, and some 5,000 warheads.

I firmly believe that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal.

Going forward, we’ll continue to seek discussions with Russia on a step we have never taken before — reducing not only our strategic nuclear warheads, but also tactical weapons and warheads in reserve.  I look forward to discussing this agenda with President Putin when we will meet in May.  Missile defense will be on the agenda, but I believe this should be an area of cooperation, not tension.  And I’m confident that, working together, we can continue to make progress and reduce our nuclear stockpiles.  Of course, we’ll consult closely with our allies every step of the way, because the security and defense of our allies, both in Europe and Asia, is not negotiable.

Here in Asia, we’ve urged China — with its growing nuclear arsenal — to join us in a dialogue on nuclear issues.  That offer remains open.  And more broadly, my administration will continue to pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  And after years of delay, it’s time to find a path forward on a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons — ends it once and for all.

By working to meet our responsibilities as a nuclear power, we’ve made progress in a third area — strengthening the global regime that prevents the spread of nuclear weapons.  When I came into office, the cornerstone of the world’s effort — which is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — was fraying.  Iran had started spinning thousands of centrifuges.  North Korea conducted another nuclear test.  And the international community was largely divided on how to respond.

Over the past three years, we have begun to reverse that dynamic.  Working with others, we’ve enhanced the global partnership that prevent proliferation.  The International Atomic Energy Agency is now conducting the strongest inspections ever.  And we’ve upheld the basic bargain of the NPT:  Countries with nuclear weapons, like the United States and Russia, will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can have access to peaceful nuclear energy.

Because of these efforts, the international community is more united and nations that attempt to flout their obligations are more isolated.  Of course, that includes North Korea.

Here in Korea, I want to speak directly to the leaders in Pyongyang.  The United States has no hostile intent toward your country.  We are committed to peace.  And we are prepared to take steps to improve relations, which is why we have offered nutritional aid to North Korean mothers and children.

But by now it should be clear, your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek; they have undermined it.  Instead of the dignity you desire, you’re more isolated.  Instead of earning the respect of the world, you’ve been met with strong sanctions and condemnation.  You can continue down the road you are on, but we know where that leads.  It leads to more of the same — more broken dreams, more isolation, ever more distance between the people of North Korea and the dignity and the opportunity that they deserve.

And know this:  There will be no rewards for provocations.  Those days are over.  To the leaders of Pyongyang I say, this is the choice before you.  This is the decision that you must make.  Today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea.  (Applause.)

This same principle applies with respect to Iran.  Under the NPT, Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear energy.  In fact, time and again the international community — including the United States — has offered to help Iran develop nuclear energy peacefully.  But time and again Iran has refused, instead taking the path of denial, deceit and deception.  And that is why Iran also stands alone, as the only member of the NPT unable to convince the international community that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes — the only member.  That’s why the world has imposed unprecedented sanctions, slowing Iran’s nuclear program.

The international community is now poised to enter talks with Iran’s leaders.  Once again, there is the possibility of a diplomatic resolution that gives Iran access to peaceful nuclear energy while addressing the concerns of the international community.  Today, I’ll meet with the leaders of Russia and China as we work to achieve a resolution in which Iran fulfills its obligations.

There is time to solve this diplomatically.  It is always my preference to solve these issues diplomatically.  But time is short.  Iran’s leaders must understand they, too, face a choice. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency  that this moment demands.  Iran must meet its obligations.

For the global response to Iran and North Korea’s intransigence, a new international norm is emerging:  Treaties are binding; rules will be enforced; and violations will have consequences.  We refuse to consign ourselves to a future where more and more regimes possess the world’s most deadly weapons.

And this brings me to the final area where we’ve made progress — a renewed commitment to harnessing the power of the atom not for war, but for peaceful purposes.  After the tragedy at Fukushima, it was right and appropriate that nations moved to improve the safety and security of nuclear facilities.  We’re doing so in the United States.  It’s taking place all across the world.

As we do, let’s never forget the astonishing benefits that nuclear technology has brought to our lives.  Nuclear technology helps make our food safe.  It prevents disease in the developing world.  It’s the high-tech medicine that treats cancer and finds new cures.  And, of course, it’s the energy — the clean energy that helps cut the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.  Here in South Korea, as you know, as a leader in nuclear energy, you’ve shown the progress and prosperity that can be achieved when nations embrace peaceful nuclear energy and reject the development of nuclear arms.

And with rising oil prices and a warming climate, nuclear energy will only become more important.  That’s why, in the United States, we’ve restarted our nuclear industry as part of a comprehensive strategy to develop every energy source.  We supported the first new nuclear power plant in three decades.  We’re investing in innovative technologies so we can build the next generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants.  And we’re training the next generation of scientists and engineers who are going to unlock new technologies to carry us forward.

One of the great challenges they’ll face and that your generation will face is the fuel cycle itself in producing nuclear energy.  We all know the problem:  The very process that gives us nuclear energy can also put nations and terrorists within the reach of nuclear weapons.  We simply can’t go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we’re trying to keep away from terrorists.

And that’s why we’re creating new fuel banks, to help countries realize the energy they seek without increasing the nuclear dangers that we fear.  That’s why I’ve called for a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation.  We need an international commitment to unlocking the fuel cycle of the future.  In the United States we’re investing in the research and development of new fuel cycles so that dangerous materials can’t be stolen or diverted.  And today I urge nations to join us in seeking a future where we harness the awesome power of the atom to build and not to destroy.

In this sense, we see how the efforts I’ve described today reinforce each other.  When we enhance nuclear security, we’re in a stronger position to harness safe, clean nuclear energy.  When we develop new, safer approaches to nuclear energy, we reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and proliferation.  When nations, including my own, fulfill our responsibilities, it strengthens our ability to ensure that other nations fulfill their responsibilities.  And step by step, we come closer to the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

I know that there are those who deride our vision.  There are those who say ours is an impossible goal that will be forever out of reach.  But to anyone who doubts the great progress that is possible, I tell them, come to Korea.  Come to this country, which rose from the ashes of war — (applause) — a country that rose from the ashes of war, turning rubble into gleaming cities.  Stand where I stood yesterday, along a border that is the world’s clearest contrast between a country committed to progress, a country committed to its people, and a country that leaves its own citizens to starve.

Come to this great university, where a new generation is taking its place in the world — (applause) — helping to create opportunities that your parents and grandparents could only imagine.  Come and see some of the courageous individuals who join us today — men and women, young and old, born in the North, but who left all they knew behind and risked their lives to find freedom and opportunity here in the South.  In your life stories we see the truth — Koreans are one people.  And if just given the chance, if given their freedom, Koreans in the North are capable of great progress as well.  (Applause.)

Looking out across the DMZ yesterday, but also looking into your eyes today, I’m reminded of another country’s experience that speaks to the change that is possible in our world.  After a terrible war, a proud people was divided.  Across a fortified border, armies massed, ready for war.  For decades, it was hard to imagine a different future.  But the forces of history and hopes of man could not be denied.  And today, the people of Germany are whole again — united and free.

No two places follow the same path, but this much is true:  The currents of history cannot be held back forever.  The deep longing for freedom and dignity will not go away.  (Applause.) So, too, on this divided peninsula.  The day all Koreans yearn for will not come easily or without great sacrifice.  But make no mistake, it will come.  (Applause.)  And when it does, change will unfold that once seemed impossible.  And checkpoints will open and watchtowers will stand empty, and families long separated will finally be reunited.  And the Korean people, at long last, will be whole and free.

Like our vision of a world without nuclear weapons, our vision of a Korea that stands as one may not be reached quickly.  But from this day until then, and all the days that follow, we take comfort in knowing that the security we seek, the peace we want, is closer at hand because of the great alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea — (applause) — and because we stand for the dignity and freedom of all Koreans.  (Applause.)  And no matter the test, no matter the trial, we stand together.  We work together.  We go together.  (Applause.)
Katchi kapshida!

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
11:03 A.M. KST

White House Recap October 8-14, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Fights for American Jobs Act Passage, Hosts 1985 Chicago Bears & Tunisian Prime Minister & South Korean President’s State Visit

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 8-14, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Building Relationships

Source: WH, 10-14-11

This week, the President continued to fight for the proposals in the American Jobs Act, welcomed the 1985 Chicago Bears and the Tunisian Prime Minister, traveled to Pittsburgh and hosted the President of South Korea for a State Visit.

West Wing Week

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A Strong Bond The President and Mrs.Obama hosted President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea for an official White House State visit. On a rainy Thursday President Lee and his wife arrived at the White House to a crowd of people on the South Lawn. Later that day President Obama and President Lee held a joint press conference to discuss theglobal economy and how to capitalize on the strong U.S.-Korean relationship to create jobs. That evening, the Obamas hosted a State Dinner in honor of President Lee, featuring produce from the White House kitchen garden fall harvest.  On Friday, both leaders travelled to Detroit where they toured General Motors Orion Assembly and gave remarks on the recent Landmark Trade Agreement between the two countries.

Breaking Records  On Thursday the First Lady led 400 local students in a bid to help break the Guinness World Records title for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. National Geographic Kids Magazine “jumped” in on the fun on the South Lawn in support of the First Lady’s Lets Move! Initiative. Figure skater Michelle Kwan and Today show host Al Roker were also on hand.

Fighting for Jobs The morning after the Senate’s failure to pass the American Jobs Act, the president addressed student, business, and cultural leaders at the Forum on Latino Heritage where he talked about his unwavering focus on creating jobs and putting people back to work. “The media will look at last night’s vote and say, well that’s it—let’s move on to the next bill. But I’ve got news for them… not this time. Not with so many American outs of work…we will not take no for an answer.”

Jobs for Law Enforcement Vice President Biden visited Flint, Michigan, a town that has been forced to cut its police force in half due to budget cuts. The Vice President talked with local law enforcement and firefighters about the American Jobs Act and how it would both create jobs and protect the nation’s “most basic obligation” to keep our citizens safe by putting cops and firefighters back to work. “This is a fight for the soul of this country. It’s a fight for the middle class. … It’s about making sure America’s fire departments, police departments continue to be a large part of the American fabric and be able to do their job.”

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