US: North Korea Rocket Would Violate UN Resolutions

Posted April 10th, 2012 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
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The United States says a planned North Korean rocket launch would represent a “clear and serious violation” of the country's obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

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.

Earlier Tuesday, a North Korean space official said the rocket is ready for launch as early as Thursday.

The deputy director of North Korea's space program rejected charges its declared satellite launch is a covert test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile. He also said there is no danger of debris falling on inhabited areas.

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.

On Monday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the launch will serve only to further isolate North Korea's communist government.

“North Korea's launch of a missile would be highly provocative, it would pose a threat to regional security, and it will be inconsistent with its recent undertakings to refrain from any kind of long-range missile launches. And, as you know, we consider that it would be a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 and 1874. So we are continuing to make the point that it is a bad idea to do this.”

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.

“No matter how much we starve, don't we have to innovate and better develop technology?”

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

The launch plan has upended 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.