Hagel discusses challenges of Iran and North Korea

The U.S. is faced with more risks than ever to its global peace, including attempts to develop nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday.

Hagel made the remarks on Wednesday as part of a speech delivered to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. During the speech, Hagel discussed foreign policy challenges to the U.S., including Iran and North Korea. Hagel said Iran could find a partner in the U.S., but only if it lives up to the obligations of its nuclear program.

"If Iran lives up to its obligations on its nuclear program and the U.N. Security Council resolutions, it will find a partner in the United States," Hagel said. "But the United States remains committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and all options remain on the table to achieve this outcome."

Hagel also mentioned the disruptive and dangerous path being pursued by North Korea. He said the U.S. is taking all needed steps to protect itself and its allies from North Korea's provocations. Hagel said that one day the U.S. might have constructive negotiations with North Korea.

"The United States looks forward to one day, maybe, having a credible engagement with North Korea, and possibly negotiations with North Korea," Hagel said. "But these talks first depend on North Korea living up to its obligations to the international community, and their actions to accomplish the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula. North Korea will be judged by its actions, not its words."

Hagel said the U.S. will need to undergo significant adjustments in planning and strategic thinking to prepare itself for new threats, new challenges and new opportunities.