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SEOUL (Politico)– In a Veterans Day speech delivered just miles from the demilitarized zone, President Obama sharply criticized North Korea for its pursuit of nuclear weapons and said Pyongyang still has the opportunity to fulfill its international obligations.

“Today, the Korean peninsula provides the world’s clearest contrast between a society that is open and a society that is closed; between a nation that is dynamic and growing, and a government that would rather starve its people than change,” Obama said. “It’s a contrast so stark you can see it from space, as the brilliant lights of Seoul give way to the utter darkness in the north.”


The distinction, Obama said, is “not an accident of history.”

“This is a direct result of the path that has been taken by North Korea – a path of confrontation and provocation, one that includes the pursuit of nuclear weapons and the attack on the Cheonan last March,” he said, referring to a North Korean submarine that torpedoed and sank a South Korean navy ship. “And in the wake of this aggression, Pyongyang should not be mistaken: the United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. We will not waver. The alliance between our two nations has never been stronger, and along with the rest of the world, we’ve made it clear that North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons will only lead to more isolation and less security for them.”

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