Bloomberg News

N. Korea Slams U.S. Plan to Halt Food Aid on Rocket Launch

March 31, 2012

North Korea criticized a U.S. announcement that it would suspend food aid if the Asian country carries out a planned “peaceful” satellite launch, calling it an overreaction “beyond the limit.”

Suspending food aid “would be a regrettable act” scrapping the entire Feb. 29 agreement between the two nations, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said, quoting a foreign ministry spokesman it didn’t name.

North Korea drew rebukes from nations including the U.S. earlier this month when it revealed plans to launch an “earth observation satellite” in April to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who visited Seoul for a Nuclear Security Summit this week, warned North Korea that its plan to fire a long-range rocket undermined prospects for future negotiations, while South Korea’s military said Kim Jong Un’s forces had moved the missile to a launch site.

North Korea’s announcement of a mid-April launch will make it difficult to move forward with the aid deal and broader efforts to get the regime back to negotiations on its nuclear weapons program, Obama said.

Test Moratorium

North Korea agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches as well as ending uranium enrichment at its facility in Yongbyon while the U.S. pledged to provide an initial 240,000 metric tons of food, according to a State Department release.

North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 is a “scientific and technological satellite for peaceful purposes,” and the country invited outside satellite experts to demonstrate its “sincerity,” KCNA reiterated today.

“The U.S. seeks to justify its missile defense system” by describing North Korea’s capabilities as a threat, KCNA quoted the foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

The North Korean satellite will be mounted on a Unha-3 rocket launched from a site in North Phyongan province between April 12 and April 16, a spokesman for the North Korean Committee for Space Technology said in a statement on KCNA earlier this month.

Kim Jong Un became North Korea’s leader in December after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. The younger Kim inherited an impoverished country of 24 million dependent on aid from China, and the regime has sought to bolster his image ahead of the April 15 centennial of his grandfather Kim Il Sung’s birth. Kim Jong Il had proclaimed that 2012 would be the year the country becomes “a strong and prosperous nation.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Seonjin Cha in Seoul at scha2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net


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