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U.S. Pacific Fleet sends mixed signals on North Korea

By Elizabeth Shim
U.S. Pacific Fleet sends mixed signals on North Korea
Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the Pacific Fleet, has suggested accepting North Korea as a nuclear power is "part of the dialogue." File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Pacific Fleet may be sending mixed signals regarding North Korea, according to recent reports.

Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown told Voice of America the United States would never recognize Pyongyang as a nuclear weapons state, following its latest missile provocation.

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North Korea's nuclear weapons will never be tolerated, Brown said, referring to the regime's sustained development of missiles and fissile material as the clearest example of the state's destabilizing behavior.

That statement is a departure from an earlier expression of views made last week by Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the Pacific Fleet.

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Speaking in Canberra, Australia, Swift had said accepting North Korea as a nuclear power is "part of the dialogue," The Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday.

Swift also said a nuclear North Korea is one of the options "on the table."

Brown not only ruled out a nuclear North Korea in his statements to VOA, but also described the Kim Jong Un regime as a source of instability in the region.

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He also criticized North Korea for acting against international norms that have been in place since World War II, according to the report.

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Swift did clarify his statement to the Australian newspaper, pointing out that he is "not part of those discussions" on whether or when dialogue is to be pursued with North Korea.

"It's not for me to say [the world might have to live with a nuclear North Korea]. It's part of the dialogue is what I'm acknowledging. When people say, 'everything is on the table,' in my mind I think it includes a dialogue with respect to North Korea as a nuclear power. I don't know if that's acceptable. I'm not part of those discussions. But I know that's part of the dialogue because people are reporting on it," Swift had said.

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