WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama had stern words for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at the close of a nuclear weapons conference in Washington, saying Trump's nuclear proposals would dangerously destabilize Asia.
Trump had called for allowing Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear weapons. Presently, both countries are not nuclear states, but they are covered under the United States' nuclear umbrella if they were ever to be attacked.
"You have so many countries already — China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia — you have so many countries right now that have them," Trump said of nuclear weapons. "Now, wouldn't you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?"
Japanese officials quickly reiterated the country's stance, that as the only country to be the victim of an atomic weapon, it will never seek to possess nuclear weapons.
Asked about Trump's comments, Obama responded: "The person who made the statements doesn't know much about foreign policy, or nuclear policy, or the Korean peninsula -- or the world generally," Obama said, not mentioning Trump by name.
Obama continued to reiterate the importance of America's presence across the Pacific.
"Our alliance with Japan and the Republic of Korea is one of the foundations, one of the cornerstones of our presence in the Asia Pacific region. It has underwritten the peace and prosperity of that region, it has been an enormous boon to American commerce and American influence and it has prevented the possibilities of a nuclear escalation and conflict between countries in the past ... that have been engaged in hugely destructive conflicts and controversies. So you don't mess with that."
Obama concluded the assault with a nod to America's history in the region, saying the U.S. nuclear policy in Asia "rests on the true sacrifices that our men and women made in World War II."
Trump has not responded to Obama's remarks.