David Blair
May 30, 2009

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, delivered a stark warning to North Korea on Saturday, declaring that America would not “stand idly by” while the regime threatened to “wreak destruction” with nuclear weapons.

[efoods]Instead, Mr Gates urged “tough sanctions” against North Korea and pledged that Washington would not accept its possession of a nuclear arsenal. Kim Jong-il’s regime was, he said, starving its own people in order to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Gates’s unequivocal message came during a conference of Asian defence ministers in Singapore. In his audience were representatives of the countries most threatened by Mr Kim – South Korea and Japan – and a delegation from China, North Korea’s only ally.

“Dependent on the charity of the international community to alleviate the hunger and suffering of its people, North Korea’s leadership has chosen to focus the North’s limited energies and resources on a reckless and ultimately self-destructive quest for nuclear weapons,” said Mr Gates.

“The policy of the United States has not changed: our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.”

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