World powers urge N. Korea to drop satellite launch
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) ― The U.S. State Department said Friday it will be "very hard to imagine" giving planned food aid to North Korea if the communist regime goes ahead with its plan to launch a satellite, a move seen as a disguise for a missile test.
"Were we to have a launch, it would create, obviously, tensions," department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. "And that would make the implementation of any kind of a nutritional agreement quite difficult."
North Korea said earlier in the day that it will launch an earth observation satellite aboard a long-range rocket next month. The announcement came just weeks after Pyongyang agreed to temporarily put a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests and freeze its uranium-enrichment facilities in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid from the U.S.
"If they were to go forward with this launch, it's very hard to imagine how we would be able to move forward with a regime whose word we have no confidence in and who has egregiously violated its international commitments," Nuland said, referring to United Nations Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from using its ballistic missile program.
The North's Korean Committee for Space Technology said Unha-3 rocket carrying Kwangmyongsong-3 will blast off from its satellite launching station in North Pyongan Province between April 12 and 16 "to mark the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il-sung," the country's founder and the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.
The launch date is set around the late founder's April 15 birthday, one of the most important holidays in the isolated country. The North, one of the poorest countries in the world, has vowed to usher in a prosperous and powerful nation by the milestone anniversary.
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement urging North Korea to "reconsider its decision in line with its recent undertaking to refrain from long-range missile launches."
The statement, attributed to Ban's spokesperson, said the secretary-general is "seriously concerned" by the North's announcement.