US suspends aid to N Korea
TOKYO - Hürriyet Daily NewsNorth Korea has reportedly begun fuelling a rocket for a launch next month, defying calls to abort an event the West says is a disguised missile test, as the United States suspended planned food aid.
“The launch is coming closer. The possibility is high that the launch date will be set for April 12 or 13,” Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported yesterday, quoting a source “close to the government” in Pyongyang. It cited the source as saying that North Korea had begun injecting liquid fuel into the rocket, Agence France-Presse reported.
South Korea’s defense ministry said March 25 the North has transported the main body of the rocket to a site in the far northwest of the country in preparation for blast-off.
North Korea insisted this week it would go ahead with what it calls a peaceful satellite launch, snubbing a call from US President Barack Obama to drop the plan and accusing him of a “confrontational mindset”. The U.S. has suspended plans to send food aid to North Korea, saying it has broken a promise to halt missile launches and cannot be trusted to give the aid to those who need it, a Pentagon official said on March 28.
Under a deal reached last month, North Korea had agreed to a partial nuclear freeze and a missile test moratorium in return for 240,000 tones of US food aid. The West and North Korea’s Asian neighbors have urged the nuclear-armed state to scrap the launch, which is seen as a pretext for testing ballistic missile technology that is banned under UN resolutions. South Korea, China and Japan will hold talks in eastern China next month on regional security and cooperation, and the rocket plan is certain to be discussed on the sidelines, Seoul’s foreign ministry said yesterday.