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Obama warns N. Korea against nuclear threats

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - President Barack Obama warned North Korea on Saturday that the United States "will not hesitate to use our military might" to defend allies, showcasing U.S. power in the region amid China's growing influence and Pyongyang's unpredictable nuclear threats.

Obama's visit to Seoul comes as North Korea has threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test, leading Obama to raise the possibility of further sanctions.

"The commitment that the United States of America has made to the security of the Republic of Korea only grows stronger in the face of aggression," Obama said in a speech to some of the 28,000 American service members stationed in South Korea to keep watch on its northern neighbor. "Our alliance does not waiver with each bout of their attention seeking. It just gains the support of the rest of the world."

The website 38 North, which closely monitors North Korea, said commercial satellite imagery from Wednesday showed increased movement of vehicles and materials near what are believed to be the entrances to two completed tunnels at Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The movements could be preparations for an underground atomic explosion, although predicting underground tests is notoriously difficult.

Obama ridiculed North Korea's attempt to show force. "Anybody can make threats," he said. "Anyone can move an army. Anyone can show off a missile. That doesn't make you strong."

He said real strength comes from having an open participatory democracy, open markets and a society free to speak out against its government.

"We don't use our military might to impose these things on others, but we will not hesitate to use our military might to defend our allies and our way of life," Obama said to cheers from the uniformed troops who filled a field house at Yongsan Garrison, headquarters for U.S. forces in South Korea.

Obama's 10-minute speech followed a rare joint defense briefing with South Korean President Park Geun-hye that focused on efforts to counter the North's nuclear ambitions. U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of the joint U.S.-South Korea command, told the two presidents that his team "works together every day to make sure that we defend the Republic of Korea and that we deter North Korea."

Following his remarks, Obama was heading to Malaysia, the third stop on his four-country Asia swing. The mission of the trip was to underscore U.S. commitment to the region at a period of uncertainty between North Korea's provocations and China's growing power. While the U.S. has long been the most powerful military influence in the Asia-Pacific region, Pentagon spending is being slashed at the same time China has been boosting its defense budget.

Beijing still lags far behind the U.S. in both military funding and technology. But its spending boom is attracting new scrutiny at a time of severe cuts in U.S. defense budgets that have some questioning Washington's commitments to its Asian allies, including some who have lingering disputes with China.

At the same time, the U.S. military is seeking to redirect resources to the Asia-Pacific as it draws down its commitment in Afghanistan, though there is concern that budget cuts could threaten plans to base 60 percent of U.S. naval assets in the region. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert recently warned that U.S. capabilities to project power "would not stay ahead" of potential adversaries, given the fiscal restraints.

Earlier Saturday, Obama promoted trade between the U.S. and South Korea with executives from businesses including Hyundai, Samsung, Korean Air, Microsoft, Boeing, Goldman Sachs and others. "As important as the security relationship is and the alliance is between the Republic of Korea and the United States, what is also important is the incredible and growing economic ties that are creating jobs and opportunity in both countries," Obama said.

While in Seoul, Obama has paid tribute to victims from last week's ferry disaster. The vast majority of the 300 dead or missing were students from a single high school near the capital city.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
mhirsch424 April 26 2014 at 11:04 AM

No red line?
Obama probably used that threat (without effect) so many times in the past he ran out of red paint.

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sgilly361 April 26 2014 at 11:29 AM

You better not cross that line , or else , we will say bad things about you , and call you names.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
MARTHA & PERRY April 26 2014 at 11:31 AM

he's going to Asia to promote his TPP that will give more power to global corporate elites and take more from Americans. the deal is so secret that congress can't access the treaty.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
bottomtime321 April 26 2014 at 7:31 AM

He really means it this time!

Just like he really means he's creating Jobs!

This President is way in over his head on every issue.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
Ghetto Cat April 26 2014 at 11:38 AM

Cigarette Import Sanctions are very thin.

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summerctz April 26 2014 at 11:39 AM

Difficult to have "military might" BO when you cut the military...

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2 replies
kcarthey summerctz April 26 2014 at 11:40 AM

Not when you still spend more than the next ten nations in the world combined on your military

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1 reply
summerctz kcarthey April 26 2014 at 11:44 AM

And who do those "next ten nations" turn to for military support? Of course they can be lax. They have us to fall back on. Who does the US have???

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quixoticjak summerctz April 26 2014 at 11:53 AM

Yep, the neo con sitting in his easy chair in front of his TV, never seems to know that with or without military cuts, the USA spends MORE than the next ten countries combined, including China an d Russia. Facts never matter to the armchair warriors...

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Lauderdale Sand April 26 2014 at 11:40 AM

Oh yea, harsh warnings and sanctions worked so well with Putin. The Korean guy does not have the common sense of Putin. Somebody needs to stuff a sock in Obama's mouth and shut him up before he starts WWIII.

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2 replies
Blackbird Cycles Lauderdale Sand April 26 2014 at 11:45 AM

That's what he wants to do. The elites of the world Know that we must eliminate a third of the worlds population to be sustainable. Thats the hidden agenda.

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quixoticjak Lauderdale Sand April 26 2014 at 11:50 AM

But that's exactly what you're suggesting, WWIII, isn't it? But it's not because of Obama's efforts, those efforts just the opposite...

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Kenny April 26 2014 at 11:43 AM

Bet they are scared shitless!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
migellc April 26 2014 at 11:46 AM

Senores, we are not in position here to be able to tackle down anything but the myriad issues lingering in this country first, I mean if we are going to make it out the canyon we got left from few pass campaigns overseas, please! Re-MaMbA ...'State of the Union Budget Crisis', 'Huge Debt Ceiling', 'Congress Gridlock', 'Immigration Reform', 'ACA Downtime', etc,etc,...

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Trapper April 26 2014 at 7:26 AM

Has the paper tiger roared again? The US is not about to engage in military actions on the Korean peninsula. This is a game of liar's poker, so who's fooling who? Kim Jung Un is an adolescent who needs a trip to the wood shed. The US needs to stand pat and wait. Eventually, NK will calm down and realize that its tantrums aren't getting them anywhere. Sure be ready and alert in case they screw up and actually make a faux pas, but otherwise wait them out. A few more bad harvests and they will come around. The regime can't survive civil unrest and its citizens are learning that there is a much better world outside of its borders. So keep your powder dry and your rifle nearby and wait.

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1 reply
kcarthey Trapper April 26 2014 at 7:30 AM

Good post and for that reason the President and other nations in the region are working togther to control the issue. Perhaps even more than on S. Korea, an explosion within N Korea would effect negatively in China. Does anyone think for a moment that China will allow Kim to have a workable bomb?

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1 reply
Trapper kcarthey April 26 2014 at 9:21 AM

Agreed. China is not about to see NK as a nuclear power. It's like letting a child play with matches. You know the house is in jeopardy. China wants to expand economically and get a seat at the adult table. It can't afford a recalcitrant teenager to upset its plans. As long as NK is talking trash and barking at the moon, China will keep it on a short leash. If NK moves too far into the nuclear program China will take away its credit card and send it to bed without supper. Meanwhile, the US should just wait and reassure SK that its has its back! Talking is always better than shooting.

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