By Paula Wolfson
25 May 2009
|President Barack Obama makes a statement about N. Korea in the White House, 25 May 2009|
President Obama appeared before television cameras at the White House to deliver a blunt message to North Korea's leaders.
"North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I strongly condemn their reckless action," he said.
Speaking just hours before the U.N. Security Council was due to meet in emergency session on North Korea, the president stressed the need for international solidarity.
"North Korea's actions endanger the people of Northeast Asia. They are a blatant violation of international law. And they contradict North Korea's own prior commitments. Now, the United States and the international community must take action in response," the president said.
Mr. Obama said Pyongyang is deepening its isolation, and inviting increased international pressure. He made specific mention of the response from Moscow and Beijing to North Korea's announcement of an underground nuclear test, and the reported test firing of three short range ground-to-air missiles.
"Russia and China as well as our traditional allies of South Korea and Japan have all come to the same conclusion: North Korea will not find security and respect through threats and illegal weapons," Mr. Obama said.
Earlier, in a series of interviews on national television, America's top military officer underscored the seriousness of the situation.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said it may take several days to verify the tests occurred. But he told CBS's Early Show that he sees a growing belligerence on the part of North Korea, and a stepped up defiance of international law.
"All of those things point to a country that I think continues to destabilize that region and actually in the long term, should they continue on to develop a nuclear weapons program, pose a significant threat to the United States," he said.
During an appearance on NBC's Today program, Mullen was asked if the United States has the ability to respond to a growing number of threats abroad, including North Korea.
"I am very confident that we can deal with a threat posed by North Korea. And it is not just the United States because there are many countries, and certainly those in the region, who are equally concerned," Mullen said.
Mullen originally scheduled the interviews to mark America's Memorial Day holiday, when the nation honors its war dead.