WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration on Wednesday sought
more international support for its tough stance on North Korea as
U.S. officials revealed plans for a presidential meeting with
Russian leaders on the matter in July and pressed for a cohesive
front later this week during a meeting of Far East defense
The White House national security adviser, Gen. James Jones,
said Wednesday night that President Barack Obama will discuss North
Korea's recent atomic test and other belligerent actions during a
summit in Moscow with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev.
"We will be in close consultation with our friends," Jones
said during a speech delivered to the Atlantic Council, a
Washington-based foreign policy group.
As Jones spoke, Defense Secretary Robert Gates took on the
delicate task of reassuring Asian allies of U.S. support without
further provoking the communist government. Gates flew to Singapore
on Wednesday for meetings with foreign ministers aimed at firming
up a unified response to the North Korean atomic test.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used tough language
that contrasted with statements from White House spokesman Robert
Gibbs that dismissed North Korean "saber-rattling."
"North Korea has made a choice," Clinton said. "It has chosen
to violate the specific language of the U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1718. It has ignored the international community. It has
abrogated the obligations it entered into through the six-party
talks. And it continues to act in a provocative and belligerent
manner toward its neighbors. There are consequences to such
Jones, in his first speech as head of Obama's National Security
Council, echoed those sentiments but added that North Korea's
greatest threat comes from spreading its nuclear technology "to
other countries and potentially to terror organizations and
The government in Pyongyang still has "a long way to go" to
weaponize its nuclear material, Jones said.
"Nothing that the North Koreans did surprised us. We knew they
were going to do this," he said. "The question is, what do you do
to bring about a change in behavior in North Korea?"
A key to the answer, Jones said, will be U.S. efforts to consult
with Russia and China to develop a consensus on how best to deal
with the issue so that it will send a signal to other nuclear-armed
nations - such as Iran.
Along those lines, Gates plans similar discussions with defense
ministers and military officials from South Korea, Japan and other
Far East nations. The talks had already been planned, but U.S.
officials said North Korea's bomb and missile tests and heated
rhetoric would now dominate the discussions.
Nicholas Szechenyi, a northeast Asia policy expert at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Gates
would likely focus on the security agreement and other programs to
stem nuclear proliferation while in Singapore. But Szechenyi said
many steps by Washington to hobble Pyongyang likely would not be
taken any time soon.
Szechenyi said joint U.S.-South Korea maritime exercises would
probably not happen immediately. "You want to respond to North
Korea but not provoke them," he said.
South Korea had resisted joining the U.S.-led Proliferation
Security Initiative, a network of nations seeking to stop ships
from transporting materials used in nuclear bombs. It joined the
coalition after Monday's bomb test - a move that North Korea
described Wednesday as akin to a declaration of war.
U.S. military officials said Wednesday there are signs of
activity at North Korea's partially disabled nuclear reactor
complex that could indicate work to restart the facility and resume
production of nuclear fuel.
One official said steam has been detected at the complex. Like
other activity detected at the site, the steam alone is
inconclusive, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity
because the methods of collecting information about North Korean
activity are sensitive.
Any move to restart the plant would be a major setback for
international efforts to get North Korea to disarm. North Korea has
about 8,000 spent fuel rods which, if reprocessed, could allow it
to harvest 13 to 18 pounds of plutonium - enough to make at least
one nuclear weapon, experts said.
North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium for at least a
half-dozen weapons, but experts say it still has not mastered the
miniaturization technology required to mount a nuclear warhead on a