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Obama: N. Korean Rocket Test Would Isolate Regime

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President Barack Obama looks through binoculars to see North Korea from Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone. (AP)
President Barack Obama looks through binoculars to see North Korea from Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone. (AP)

Warning North Korea from its doorstep, President Barack Obama said Pyongyang risks deepening its isolation in the international community if it proceeds with a planned long-range rocket launch.

"North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations," Obama said during a news conference Sunday in Seoul, South Korea, where he was to attend a nuclear security summit.

Obama spoke following a private meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Both leaders warned there would be consequences if North Korea proceeds with next month's launch, with Obama saying the move would jeopardize a deal for the U.S. to resume stalled food at to the North.

"Bad behavior will not be rewarded," Obama said.

North Korea plans to launch a satellite using a long-range rocket next month, which the U.S. and other powers say would violate a U.N. ban on nuclear and missile activity because the same technology could be used for long-range missiles.

The U.S. considers the rocket launch practice for a ballistic missile test and a violation of North Korea's international responsibilities. The planned launch is yet another setback for the United States in years of on-again, off-again attempts to launch real negotiations. The announcement also played into Republican criticism that Obama had been too quick to jump at a new chance for talks with the North Koreans.

Earlier Sunday, Obama paid his first visit to the tense Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, speaking briefly at the U.S. military camp located just outside the 2.5-mil-wide zone. What he saw from the border, Obama said, underscored the degree to which the North has suffered under a battery of sanctions aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its continued provocations.

"It's like you're in a time warp," he said. "It's like you're looking across 50 years into a country that has missed 40 years or 50 years of progress."

Obama's visit takes place as North Koreans mark the end of the 100-day mourning period for longtime leader Kim Jong Il, who died of a heart attack in December. Since Kim's death, son Kim Jong Un has been paying a series of high-profile visits to military units and made his own trip to the "peace village" of Panmunjom inside the DMZ earlier this month.

Obama said he had not yet been able to make a full assessment of the North's new leader, saying the political situation there appeared to still be "unsettled."

"It's not clear exactly who is calling the shots and what their long-term objectives are," Obama said.

Lee said it was "premature" to make an assessment of the North's new leader. He said that while he had some expectations that the young Kim might take a different approach than his father, he found news of the rocket launch to be a "disappointment."

This program aired on March 25, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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