Official: US Will Suspend Food Aid to North Korea

Posted March 28th, 2012 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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A senior U.S. Defense Department official says Washington has decided to suspend food aid to North Korea, in part because of its plans to carry out a provocative missile launch next month.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy told a congressional hearing Wednesday that such a launch would reflect Pyongyang's desire to ignore its international commitments. The United States, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia have all urged North Korea to abandon plans for the launch, which it says is set for the second week of April.

Under a deal reached last month, North Korea agreed to a partial nuclear freeze and a moratorium on missile testing in return for U.S. food aid. Pyongyang then announced it would use a long-range rocket to launch a satellite in honor of the late founding president Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday, which is April 15.

Lavoy also told U.S. lawmakers Washington has no confidence that any food aid provided to North Korea would reach those in need. The aid package was intended to target especially young children and pregnant women.

U.S. food aid to North Korea has been on hold since Pyongyang expelled U.S. food monitors in 2009 after Washington expressed similar concerns about food distribution.