Thursday, March 22, 2012

UN Chief Urges N. Korea to Cancel Launch

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed “deep concern” over North Korea's plan to launch a satellite into orbit, and vowed to raise the issue at next week's nuclear security summit in Seoul.

Speaking Thursday in Malaysia, Ban said the missile launch threatens regional security and undermines recent advancements toward ending the dispute over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

“I urge the DPRK authorities to refrain from any such act that will destabilize the situation and peace and stability in the Korean peninsula, and that is against the aspiration and inspiration of the international community,” Ban said.

North Korea says the satellite launch, set for mid-April, is for “peaceful scientific purposes.” But Ban said the launch would be a “clear violation” of a U.N. resolution prohibiting North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.

Last month, North Korea agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, allow the return of U.N. weapons inspectors, and stop missile tests, while the U.S. agreed to send North Korea badly needed food aid.

Victor Cha, the former director of the National Security Council for Asian Affairs, told VOA that when Pyongyang agreed to suspend ballistic missile tests, that “clearly” included a moratorium on satellite launches.

“There really is no distinction between their (proposed) satellite launch and a ballistic missile test, since they use the same technology to get this vehicle into orbit," Cha said. "There really is no difference.”

Meanwhile, Ban has vowed to bring up the issue at next week's high-profile nuclear security summit in Seoul. Pyongyang has warned that any resolution dealing with its nuclear program would be viewed as an “act of war.”