The U.S. will halt planned shipments of thousands of tons in food aid to North Korea after the reclusive Asian nation’s launch of a long-range rocket, two Obama administration officials said.
The rocket launch means the U.S. will suspend 240,000 tons of food aid promised as part of a February agreement by North Korea to halt nuclear and missile tests, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
President Barack Obama’s administration sought to keep North Korea from conducting the launch. The test complicates U.S.-led efforts to engage North Korea after Kim Jong Un took control following the December death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
North Korea’s rocket launch was a failed effort that nonetheless violated international law and jeopardized regional security, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
“Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments,” Carney said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.
North Korea said today that the satellite carried by the rocket failed to enter its preset orbit, according to the state- run Korean Central News Agency.
No Threat From Missile
The U.S. military tracked the rocket and said its first stage fell into the Yellow Sea 165 kilometers (102 miles) west of Seoul, according to a North American Aerospace Defense Command statement yesterday. The launch was detected at 6:39 p.m. Washington time yesterday, NORAD said.
“The remaining stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land,” NORAD said in its statement, identifying the missile as a Taepodong-2. “At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat.”
The launch was in part a propaganda move, and its failure will have internal ramifications for North Korea’s government, according to one of the administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The food aid had been contingent on U.S. ability to monitor its delivery and provocations such as the launch now made that impossible, the official said.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations condemned North Korea’s action and urged its government to refrain from future launches using ballistic missile technology or any other action that might heighten regional tensions, according to a statement issued in Washington yesterday. The G-8’s members include Russia, Italy, the U.K., France, Canada, Japan, Germany and the U.S.
The ministers said the launch violated United Nations Security Council resolutions. They called on North Korea’s government to comply with relevant UN resolutions and said they were ready to consider asking the Security Council for an “appropriate response,” according to the statement.
The Security Council plans to hold an emergency session today, according to a diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment publicly.
Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said the launch illustrated North Korea’s “complete disregard for international sanctions and its proclivity for worthless commitments,” according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from his office.
Kyl called on the Obama administration to cease its “naïve negotiations” with North Korea’s government and to “instead focus on fully funding missile defenses that can protect the United States from ballistic missile threats.”
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