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North Korea breaks off deal with U.S. after food aid halted

By Sangwon Yoon

Bloomberg News

LAST UPDATED: 10:28 a.m. HST, Apr 18, 2012

North Korea broke off an agreement to halt testing of nuclear devices and long-range missiles after the U.S. canceled food assistance to the totalitarian regime following last week’s botched rocket launch.

North Korea is now “free” to take “necessary retaliatory measures” after the U.S. withdrew its offer of 240,000 tons of food, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement today carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

It is also prepared to wage a “holy war” against South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s government and would take “special action” against targets that could include central Seoul, an unidentified spokesman of the supreme command of the Korean People’s Army said in a separate statement carried by KCNA. The regime often issues statements threatening war.

The Obama administration pressed North Korea to cancel the April 13 launch of the rocket, which disintegrated minutes after liftoff, saying it would nullify the Feb. 29 accord to provide food in return for the suspension of nuclear and missile tests. South Korea said the result may lead new leader Kim Jong Un to compensate for the failure by testing a nuclear device.

“There will be a cooling-off period where the U.S. and North Korea exchange criticisms and shift blame on the other,” said Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “Depending on China’s role in that process, this could turn to dialogue or additional provocation by North Korea.”

’Bad Behavior’

The U.S. is abusing the United Nations Security Council by “imposing its brigandish demand,” the foreign ministry said, referring to the 15-member body’s censure issued this week. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice is the council president this month.

North Korea’s statement is “not surprising, given their recent behavior,” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in Washington. Asked whether the U.S. had information North Korea was preparing to test a nuclear device, he said, “there’s been this pattern of bad behavior, if you will. So we can’t preclude anything at this point.”

The Security Council’s April 16 statement called the launch a “serious violation” of existing resolutions that ban North Korea from using its ballistic missile technology. The council also said it would update its list of sanctioned goods.

The UN body moved more quickly than in the past to censure North Korea, and China’s approval signals that the Kim regime’s only ally “might be taking a firmer stance against the North,” Yang said. China is a permanent veto-wielding member of Security Council.

Debris Search Ends

The rocket, which was fired on April 13 to put a satellite into orbit, exploded shortly after liftoff over the Yellow Sea, scattering debris off the South Korean coast. A South Korean intelligence report warned a week ago that recent activity at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear testing site is consistent with preparations for previous atomic device detonations.

South Korea yesterday called off a search for debris after four days of unsuccessful attempts to locate parts from the rocket due to murky waters and strong currents.

Kim Jong Un, who took power in December following the death of his father Kim Jong Il, used his first public speech on April 15 to say the world can’t threaten or blackmail North Korea’s “undefeated” 1.2 million-strong military.

Two UN resolutions are already in place after North Korea detonated atomic devices in 2006 and 2009. The measures call for stepped-up inspection of suspect air and sea cargo and seek to block funding for nuclear, missile and proliferation work.

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Hawaiianhaole wrote:
240,000 tons of food!!!!!! it's time we start taking care of our own. Imagine how many poor American families this could feed. Lets see if the Government does what is expected of them, re-direct this food assistance back to the Needy and the working class poor of America, stop giving hand outs to unappreciated countries.
on April 18,2012 | 04:30AM
Manapua_Man wrote:
Agreed, we need to take care of our own backyard first before offering to clean up someone else's mess. I'm sick and tired of our country always helping others... only to get kicked in the teeth for our troubles afterwards. I say screw the rest of the World. Let them handle their own problems. We have plenty of our own problems here in our communities already.
on April 18,2012 | 06:54AM
Pocho wrote:
they knew what was coming testing that rocket/missle, Who cares? conform or suffer, who's the beggar?
on April 18,2012 | 05:08AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
North Korea has been jerking us around for decades. Time to stop playing games with them and unless they show us commitment towards nuclear disarmament, we should cease all talks with them and continue to encourage sanctions against them. Turn the screws on these screwballs.
on April 18,2012 | 06:35AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
North Korea has played games with us for decades now. It's obvious they have no intention of going forth with nuclear disarmament. All talks with them should cease completely and U.S. should continue to encourage sanctions against the North until they show us results first before they get anything from us. Time to stop playing games. We have pressing problems at home that we could be using that money for.
on April 18,2012 | 06:38AM
serious wrote:
Their option. Guns or butter, they decided on the former.
on April 18,2012 | 06:44AM
loquaciousone wrote:
North Korea is full of lolos who have little touch with reality. Unfortunately, they also have some very big dangerous things that go BOOM and that makes it very very scary.
on April 18,2012 | 07:08AM
dhclinton wrote:
the food was feeding the militay not the starving people of n korea. can we stop policing the world and focus on the issues of the united state
on April 18,2012 | 07:25AM
roadsterred wrote:
After touting a major breakthrough with the North Korean Government by providing food aid to halt their nuclear program, the Obama administration now has egg on its face. Previous administration's have experienced the same results because the North Koreans have no intent of stopping their nuclear programs. When are we going to learn that the North Koreans can't be trusted. It's fortunate for the U.S., Japan, and South Korea that the missile launch was a failure.
on April 18,2012 | 07:39AM
Ripoff wrote:
No more katsu and mean jun for you Un.....
on April 18,2012 | 04:39PM
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