EU Leaders Urge Pyongyang to Abandon Missile Launch

Posted March 28th, 2012 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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European Union leaders are calling on North Korea to abandon its planned rocket launch and dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Following a Wednesday meeting in Seoul with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said he was “gravely concerned” about Pyongyang's plan to launch a satellite into orbit next month.

“We urge North Korea to refrain from any destabilizing act and that it fully abide by its obligations under the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and other agreements.”

Rompuy said North Korea's government should be concerned with improving its widespread human rights violations and hunger issues, and not be focused on missiles and nuclear weapons.

Western nations say the satellite launch is being used by North Korea as an excuse to test its long-range ballistic missiles, an activity that is banned under U.N. sanctions.

Pyongyang has vowed to continue with the mid-April launch, saying it is a peaceful scientific project meant to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of founding leader Kim Il Sung.

Wednesday's meeting in Seoul followed this week's 53-nation nuclear security summit, which was largely overshadowed by the North Korean missile issue.

The threatened launch comes as U.S. officials mull a decision made earlier this year to ship 240,000 metric tons of emergency food supplies to the impoverished North. Neither President Obama nor other U.S. officials have said whether the shipments will go forward if the North Korean launch takes place.