"We have continually insisted that North Korea de-nuclearize," Mr. Obama said, standing next to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in the White House Rose Garden. "We have not come to a conclusion that North Korea will or should be a nuclear power. Given the belligerent way in which they are constantly threatening their neighbors, I don't think there is any question that it would be a destabilizing situation that would be a profound threat."
Mr. Obama said his administration welcomes the country's economic development but that provocative behavior that threatens the country's neighbors will be met with serious enforcement of sanctions that are in place.
"They have not shown any restraint in terms of exporting weapons, not only to state actors but to nonstate actors," he said. "There is a path for North Korea to take in which they are joining the world community, becoming integrated into the world economy...In order to take that path, North Korea has to make a decision and understand prestige and security and prosperity are not going to come through the path of engaging neighbors and threatening violations of international law."
The president emphasized that along with the United States and the Republic of Korea, Russia, China and Japan have also made it clear North Korea will not find security or respect through threats or weapons.
In a joint statement Mr. Obama and President Lee released to lay out a shared vision for the continued alliance of the United States and South Korea, the two countries commit to work together for the complete and verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons, existing nuclear programs and ballistic missile programs. The statement says the United States' nuclear umbrella will continue to be utilized as a deterrent against threats to the two nations' interests and that South Korea will take the lead role in the combined defense of Korea, supported by an enduring U.S. military presence on the peninsula.
The countries also committed in the statement to strengthening bilateral economic and trade relations, as well as to cooperating in the pursuit of a low-carbon economy, clean energy research, and peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
"Our open societies, our commitment to free democracy and a market economy, and our sustained partnership provide a foundation for the enduring friendship, shared values, and mutual respect that tightly bind the American and Korean peoples," the statement says.