WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Monday that U.N. sanctions on North Korea should also be seen by Iran as a strong signal to abandon its nuclear ambitions or face a rebuke from a united international community.
She called the new U.N. Security Council measure "a very strong resolution" that she said would punish and further isolate the North Korean regime. "The world has reacted calmly and firmly" to last week's North Korean nuclear test, Rice said.
She briefed reporters at the State Department on her upcoming trip to Japan, South Korea and China, which begins on Tuesday. "The purpose of my trip is to rally the support of our friends and allies" in the region, Rice said.
Rice pointedly drew a comparison with the North Korean test and the nuclear program of Iran, which is also under U.N. Security Council scrutiny for its own nuclear program.
"The Iranian government is watching. ... It can now see that the international community will respond" to efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, the secretary said.
As to North Korea, Rice said that, with its vote to impose sanctions, the United Nations had shown that it intends to "collectively isolate North Korea," including restrictions on trade and international finance.
With North Korea's nuclear test, "the nonproliferation regime is under strain but it is not broken," Rice asserted.
She said that one welcome side effect of the North Korean test is that it has drawn China closer to the United States in terms of international cooperation.
Rice denied that U.S. involvement in Iraq was keeping the administration from giving its full attention to the nuclear problem. "We can certainly do more than one thing at a time," she said.
Rice disputed that Bush's characterization of Iraq, North Korea and Iran as an "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address had helped to aggravate the problem.
"The president had the diagnosis right," she said.