In the News – North Korea Provocations Won’t Be Tolerated, U.S. Diplomat Says
SEOUL — A senior U.S. diplomat said Monday that the United States and its allies were determined to prevent any further provocations from North Korea following the failure of its rocket launching last week.
The comment from Kurt M. Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, came as signs emerged from Pyongyang that despite its embarrassing rocket failure, North Korea has retained the officials believed to be in charge of the North’s missile and nuclear programs.
“We agreed that even though the launch was a failure, it was a provocative action that threatens international security,” said Mr. Campbell, the highest U.S. diplomat to travel to Northeast Asia since the North’s failed launching. “The international community is united in its strong determination to discourage any further provocations” from North Korea, he added.
Mr. Campbell made the comments to reporters in Seoul after meeting officials there on Monday. He also met Japanese officials in Tokyo on Sunday. His trip was to seek “very clear and firm coordination” with key U.S. allies in Asia over how to deal with the launching, which the three governments considered a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and also how to prevent more provocative actions from the North, including a possible nuclear test.
The rocket failure prompted speculation that the North Korean leadership might engineer a purge to assign the blame. But video footage from the large military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday showed that all three party officials in charge of the North’s defense industries — including Pak To-chun, party secretary for munitions industries, and Ju Kyu-chang, director of the party’s department for machinery industries — were present in their military uniforms.
Another important player in the North’s nuclear and missile programs — Paek Se-bong, head of the country’s Second Economic Commission — was also in attendance.
The three retained their seats in the country’s powerful National Defense Commission during a parliamentary meeting held the same day the rocket failed. The parliamentary meeting elected Kim Jong-un, the supreme North Korean leader, as head of the defense commission, the North’s top governing agency.
Also on Monday, Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan that often speaks for the Pyongyang government, reported that North Korea would embark on developing a rocket much bigger than the Unha-3, which disintegrated in mid-air on Friday.
The Unha-3 took off from a newly built launching pad near the western border with China. Experts who have examined the site through satellite imagery have said that it was designed for bigger rockets than the Unha-3.
North Korea’s unprecedented decision to admit the rocket failure Friday was proof that the launching was part of a peaceful program intended to put a satellite into orbit, and not a cover, as Washington said, for developing intercontinental ballistic missile technology, Choson Sinbo said.
In Seoul, President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea again accused the North Korean government of wasting money developing rockets rather than spending it to improve the well-being of its people.
The money squandered in the failed launching could have bought 2.5 million tons of badly needed corn, Mr. Lee said during his regular radio speech.
Original article can be found here.