4/4/2012 - Japan, United States Caution North Korea Against Rocket Launch
Japan and the United States on Tuesday strongly cautioned North Korea against carrying out its planned long-range rocket launch, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Any kind of missile launch of any kind is of great concern and would be a violation, in our view, of U.N. Security Council resolutions," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said to journalists.
Washington and partner states see Pyongyang's announced intention to fire a satellite-carrying Unha 3 rocket into space between April 12 and 16 as a cover for another U.N.-banned long-range ballistic missile test.
Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta addressed the matter in a telephone conversation. The two men "affirmed the importance" of the U.S.-Japan partnership in safeguarding the island nation, the Pentagon said in a prepared statement.
The defense chiefs "reiterated their view that such a missile launch would directly violate North Korea's international obligations," according to statement (Agence France-Presse I/Google News, April 3).
Heads of state from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations at a meeting this week could issue a communique voicing worries about North Korea's rocket plans, the Korea Herald reported
An anonymous government source told the Yonhap News Agency the expected statement would urge regional parties to not jeopardize stability on the Korean Peninsula.
"At the summit, there will be a statement warning of any actions that can escalate the tension on the peninsula," the official said (Kim Yoon-mi, Korea Herald, April 3).
"North Korea's long-range missile launch is a clear case to reaffirm the structural intransigence of the North Korean regime," the Yonhap News Agency quoted former South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In-taek as saying at a academic conference in Seoul on Wednesday. "For the new Kim Jong Un regime, the forthcoming long-range missile launch will assuredly be an event just like the behavior of 'buttoning the first button in the wrong hole.' Eventually this event will be self-defeating behavior for North Korea."
The adviser said the satellite launch was part of an effort by Pyongyang to consolidate domestic support around Kim Jong Un, who assumed leadership following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December. The plan raises questions over whether the North was negotiating in good faith with Washington when it agreed in February to cease a number of nuclear weapon-related activities in return for food assistance.
The United States has announced it is calling off plans to provide North Korea with 240,000 metric tons of nutritional aid as a consequence of the rocket plans.
"From North Korea's perspective, the Feb. 29 agreement was not destined to be dead-on-arrival by accident," Hyun said. "It is highly likely North Korea's decision on the missile launch was made far before the agreement. Under this circumstance, the Feb. 29 agreement seems to be the result of a highly calculated tactic by North Korea" (Yonhap News Agency/Korea Times, April 4).
A Japanese newspaper friendly to the regime in Pyongyang on Wednesday said U.S. failure to deliver the pledged food aid could lead to a third North Korean nuclear test, AFP reported.
"North Korea's commitment to a temporary moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and uranium enrichment activity can be canceled," according to the Choson Sinbo,referring to components of the February agreement with Washington.
The North detonated nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009. There have been various warnings in the years since then of another atomic trial.
Retraction of U.S. food aid is equivalent to "turning the clock back to post-April 2009," the month before the most recent test, the newspaper said