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.
미국 정부는 16일(현지시간) 북한의 장거리 로켓 발사 계획과 관련, "이를 강행하면 식량을 지원하는 일은 상상하기 어렵다"고 밝혔다.
빅토리아 눌런드 국무부 대변인은 이날 정례브리핑에서 "로켓 발사는 북한의 신의를 의심하게 만들고, 식량 선적을 추진할 우호적인 분위기 조성을 해칠 것"이라며 이같이 강조했다.
눌런드 대변인은 북측의 이날 발표가 지난달 29일 중국 베이징(北京) 고위급 회담 합의사안에 대한 "심각한 우려"를 초래했다고 말했다.
그는 "로켓 발사를 강행한다면 북한 정권은 국제사회에서 한 약속을 터무니없이 어기는 것이므로 미국은 북한의 발언을 신뢰할 수 없으며 북측과 일을 진행하기 매우 어렵게 된다"고 지적했다.
또 "미국은 베이징 대화 당시 이런 장거리 로켓 발사는 합의 폐기를 의미한다는 점을 북측에 이미 경고했기 때문에 이번 위성발사 발표는 북측의 약속이 신뢰할만한 것인지 의심하게 만든다"고 전했다.