U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Washington will enforce a new United
Nations resolution against North Korea, despite Pyongyang's threats of
In a U.S. television interview (NBC) (Sunday), Biden said it is time to keep up pressure on North Korea, following the U.N. Security Council's unanimous adoption (on Friday) of a resolution that imposes tough new sanctions.
The vice president said it is impossible to know the motivation of North Korean leaders, who recently ordered an underground nuclear test and the test-firing of several missiles.
But Biden said all Security Council members, including China and Russia, are now in agreement that North Korea is a destabilizing force in the region.
On Saturday, North Korea said it will "weaponize" its remaining supply of plutonium and begin enriching uranium in order to build more nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has previously denied having a uranium-enrichment program.
Pyongyang also said it will respond with military action to any attempt to blockade its ships.
The new U.N. Security Council resolution gives member states the authority to inspect all cargo heading to or from North Korea. It also bans weapons exports from the North and tightens financial restrictions.
In Seoul Sunday, South Koreans held rival demonstrations either praising or condemning past attempts at reconciliation with the North. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the home of former President Kim Dae-jung, where they burned a North Korean flag to protest Mr. Kim's so-called "sunshine policy."
Elsewhere in Seoul, more than a thousand progressive activists rallied to express their support of the policy, which produced a joint declaration by the two Koreas on June 15, 2000.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a statement from Seoul's Unification Ministry accusing North Korea of failing to uphold the June 15 summit agreements.
South Korea's current president, conservative Lee Myung-bak, has taken a harder line toward Pyongyang than his two liberal predecessors. Mr. Lee was scheduled to leave South Korea Sunday to fly to the United States.
Mr. Lee is scheduled to hold his first bilateral summit with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said North Korea will be the main topic of their discussions.
The talks are also expected to touch on U.S. security guarantees to South Korea, as well as the long-delayed ratification of the countries' bilateral free-trade agreement.