U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Iran to act with "urgency" to resolve the dispute over Tehran's controversial nuclear program with the U.S. leader warning time is running out.
"There is time to solve this diplomatically. It is always my preference to solve these issues diplomatically," Obama said.
"But time is short. Iran's leaders must understand they too face a choice. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands. Iran must meet its obligations."
The U.S. leader was speaking at a university in South Korea ahead of an international nuclear-safety summit.
Obama also urged North Korean leaders to "have the courage to pursue peace" and warned that provocation will lead to further international condemnation.
"And know this, there will be no rewards for provocations. Those days are over. To the leaders of Pyongyang I say, this is the choice before you, this is the decision you must make: today we say Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea," Obama said.
New Agreement With Russia
Obama also said he will seek talks with Russia on reducing not only strategic nuclear warheads but tactical weapons and those in reserve.
"Going forward, we'll continue to seek discussions with Russia on a step we have never taken before, reducing not only our strategic nuclear warheads, but also tactical weapons and warheads in reserve," Obama explained to students at Hankuk University.
"I look forward to discussing this agenda with [incoming] President [Vladimir] Putin when we will meet in May; missile defense will be on the agenda, but I believe this should be an area of cooperation not tension,"
Obama said the international community has made progress in reducing the threat of nuclear material but that "we're under no illusions."
He pointed to Ukraine and Kazakhstan as success stories.
"Nations like Kazakhstan have moved nuclear materials to more secure locations; Mexico, and just yesterday Ukraine, have joined the ranks of nations that have removed all the highly enriched uranium from their territory," Obama said.
All told, thousands of pounds of nuclear material have been removed from vulnerable sites around the world."
Obama said the United States had more nuclear weapons than needed, but security remains possible even with further reductions.
With AP and Reuters reporting
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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