(SEOUL, South Korea) — President Obama paused during his speech to local college students in South Korea Monday to directly address the North Korean leaders across the DMZ, urging new dictator Kim Jong Un and his regime to pursue a different path.
Saying he wanted to “speak directly to the leadership in Pyongyang,” the president insisted that the United States was “committed to peace” and has “no hostile intent toward your country.”
That said, Obama scolded North Korea, saying its “provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek, they have undermined it. Instead of the dignity you desire, you are more isolated. Instead of earning the respect of the world, you have been met with strong sanctions.”
Obama urged the North Koreans to change their ways.
“Today we say, Pyongyang: have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the North Korean people,” he said.
The president also addressed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, saying, “There is time to solve this diplomatically, but time is short.”
The speech, at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, focused on the Nuclear Security Summit that kicks of later Monday, with the president heralding progress made in securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials.
While repeating his lofty goal for a world without nuclear weapons, Obama said he would continue to “maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal that guarantees the defense of the United States and our allies — including South Korea and Japan.”
That said, the president argued that with more than 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons and more than 5,000 warheads, the U.S. has “more nuclear weapons than we need.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ben Westcott, CNN
Mohammed Tawfeeq and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN