May 30th, 2009
09:35 AM ET
14 years ago

Gates: Nuclear-armed N. Korea not acceptable

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, meets with other world leaders at a conference Saturday in Singapore."]
(CNN) - The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday at an international conference.

"We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region - or on us," said Gates, speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.

"Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state," he said.

His comments came amid growing concern across the globe over North Korea's latest nuclear test and test-firings of short-range missiles.

On Friday, two Defense Department officials said the latest U.S. satellite imagery has spotted "vehicle activity" at a North Korean ballistic missile facility.

"North Korea's nuclear program and actions constitute a threat to regional peace and security. We unequivocally reaffirm our commitment to the defense of our allies in the region," Gates said in Singapore.

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Filed under: North Korea • Robert Gates
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Hopeful Optimist

    Hurrah for Gates, the best thing to ever come out of Aggieland. Let's listen attentively to this man when he talks. It's no accident that Obama kept this holdover from the previous administration.

    May 30, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Reinstate Darwinism

    Intel similiar to this is what landed us in Iraq. I would hope we could get away from repeating history.

    Granted we KNOW they have Nuclear material. We KNOW they sell to the highest bidder. We KNOW that they have a very unstable government. Yet the reality is we have done NOTHING of substance and the Iraq debacle has put the public mentality twards force as a means for political suicide.

    N.K. is a very complicated problem. one thing I now we don't need is more Intel and news reports about "vehicle activity" and politicians stating the obvious "North Korea's nuclear program and actions constitute a threat to regional peace and security."

    May 30, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. Proud DHS radical

    "We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region — or on us," said Gates'

    Well, Gates and Obama will stand idly by because there's not a thing Obama is going to do unless he wish to invade N. Korea and we don't have the troops to do that. Also...why hasn't Obama came out with one of his press conferences over this issue? He holding a press conference nearly everyday for lesser issues.

    May 30, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Pat, CA

    Gates: Nuclear-armed N. Korea not acceptable
    So what's your plan? Nice words - where's the action?

    May 30, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. Robert - Atlanta

    Thank goodness someone in Washington still has their eye on what's going on in the world. Thank you very much Secretary Gates for ensuring that we are keeping our eye on N. Korea. All this idiotic fighting coming from the right wing GOP (Good Old Boy Party) is starting to disgust me and serves as a huge distraction to what is going on in N. Korea, Pakistan & the rest of the world. Mr. Gates, you are a true patriot and probably bleed red, white & blue with you thinking about the American people's well being and not about your political career like the majority of other politicians. We could not have asked for a better Defense Secretary to help protect our country. God Bless you.

    May 30, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Henry Miller

    Typical American arrogance.

    As contemptible as the government of North Korea is, it is that of a sovereign nation and not subject to the whims of Washington. The so-called "nuclear"–atomic, actually, so far as I can tell–threat represented by North Korea's bottle rockets and firecrackers is negligible to the US and small even to Asian nations.

    By this kind of hysterical over-reaction, Mr Gates is giving North Korea power far beyond their actual ability to cause harm. The last time the US over-reacted to "WMD," we wound up in the interminable, expensive, quagmire of Iraq. I would hope we've learned something by that–that trying to play world cop is a thankless waste of American resources and influence.

    Let's leave Asian affairs to the Asians. If Japan feels threatened by North Korea, let them bear the costs of dealing with the problem.

    May 30, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Brad

    "The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state..."

    It already IS a nuclear-armed state. So the questions is, what are you going to do about it Mr. Secretary? Continue to verbally condemn N. Korea as it continues to launch warheads into the Sea of Japan? The Obama Administration's inept response to N. Korea's provocations (and potential attack on S. Korea) will ultimately land another Republican Administration in the White House. You heard it here first.

    May 30, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Dawn in Pa

    This is such a joy for all you right wing nuts, stating that Obama is sleeping behind the wheel. Not true he is in constant communications with Gates and Clinton and the joint chief of staff. He is also in contact with the rest of the world and the ones who is in close proximity to North Korea.

    Under the Bush Administration, we would be bombing North Korea, thus world war 3. Of course The United States must do things slowly and not to anger them, like President Bush once done.

    May 30, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. Dawn in Pa

    @Brad...Another Republican in the Oval Office, who do you think actually angered North Korea? I know I know George W Bush, Axis of Evil Iran, Iraq and North Korea!!!!!

    We cannot afford to get into another war, end of story.

    May 30, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. history repeats


    obamas inept response?? i suppose we should just go to war huh? bush was a great decision maker right? i am so sick of the 4th grade mentality americans use when judging if our president is doing a good job dealing with foreign policy! you people realize we are adults and war is supposed to be the LAST RESORT!!! turn your tv's off and come back to the real world!!!

    May 30, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Debbie, white Mom in the suburbs

    While I really appreciate Gates as a man of integrity and competence the fact is that N Korea went nuclear under Bush and there was nothing to be done. We no longer have the military capacity to respond thanks to all the wasted resources and lives in the unneccesary war in Iraq. The fact is that any nation that uses nuclear capacity to hurt another country would feel the full retaliation of the US and others and would be obliterated. Its what kept the former USSR in check all those decadse and its really the only thing left since we are no longer able to invade every country that shows this ability. In fact, our invasion of Iraq gave many countries a reason to push for nuclear capability since its the only way they can avoid a similar invasion.

    May 30, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |