WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama said Friday that suggestions from people like Donald Trump that nuclear weapons would help South Korea and Japan show a lack of understanding of the world.
The Republican presidential front-runner told The New York Times last week he would be open to Japan and South Korea having their own atomic arsenals as a deterrent to North Korea.
When asked about the issue Friday night, Obama said, "The person who made the statements doesn't know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the Korean Peninsula or the world generally."
He described the U.S. alliance with Japan and South Korea as "one of the cornerstones of our presence in the Asia-Pacific region." U.S. policy there, he said, "has prevented the possibilities of a nuclear escalation in conflict between countries that in the past and throughout history have been engaged in hugely destructive conflicts and controversies. So you don't mess with that."
Obama added, "And we don't want somebody in the Oval Office who doesn't recognize how important that is."
Without naming specific candidates, Obama noted that the hectic campaign to replace him had come up during discussions with leaders at this week's nuclear summit in Washington.
"What we do is really important to the rest of the world," he said. "And even in those countries that are used to a carnival atmosphere in their own politics want sobriety and clarity when it comes to U.S. elections."