Clinton Calls on North Korea to Live Up to Its Commitments

Posted April 10th, 2012 at 5:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on North Korea to live up to its nuclear commitments and give up on its plan to launch a missile.

Clinton met with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba Tuesday in Washington. She said the talks focused on the rocket launch which Pyongyang said could take place as soon as Thursday. Clinton said the United States and Japan share a strong commitment to peace in the region and will closely watch as the situation develops. She said peace and security will not come from more provocations, but from North Korean commitment to its commitments and it obligations.

Gemba said a launch would harm the path toward Pyongyang's cooperation with the United States, Russia, China and other nations and that efforts need to be made until the last moment to get North Korea to refrain from the launch.

Earlier, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday the missile, if launched, would also jeopardize U.S. food aid to the impoverished country.

He said the U.S. will work with its allies on the next steps if Pyongyang proceeds with firing the rocket.

The deputy director of North Korea's space program, Ryu Gum Chol, rejected charges its declared satellite launch is a covert test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile. He told VOA that the rocket is developed for space exploration and that it purpose will be clear to those who attend the April 15 centenary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. Ryu also said there is no danger of debris falling on inhabited areas.

The North Korean official denied there was any prior agreement during U.S.-North Korean talks on February 29 to ban the satellite launch.

The international community has roundly criticized the proposed launch. On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron voiced “deep concern.” They urged North Korea to abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Russia and China also have expressed concern.

Also Tuesday, the United States and South Korea reaffirmed their commitment to South Korea's defense in the face of the planned launch.

North Korea said the purpose of firing the rocket is to launch a weather satellite into orbit. The United States and South Korea see the launch as a means of testing a ballistic missile that could be used to deliver nuclear warheads.

New evidence has emerged that North Korea is preparing for what would be its third underground nuclear weapons test.

South Korean intelligence photos, provided Monday to VOA and other news organizations, showed new signs of tunneling at the site of the two previous tests, and mounds of earth that could be used to refill the tunnel — one of the last steps before a test.

On Sunday, during a rare media tour of the North Korean facility, the general manager of the launch site told reporters that under the Space Treaty, every country has the right to develop space technology for peaceful purposes.

General manager Jang Myong Jin was asked by VOA whether it was appropriate for his country to be developing space technology when its people are suffering from food shortages.

He responded that the country must innovate no matter how much its people starve.

The launch plan has jeopardized more than a year of painstaking diplomacy aimed at achieving a resumption of six-nation talks to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in exchange for international aid.