US Suspends Food Aid to North Korea

Washington, Mar 29 (IANS): The US has suspended its planned nutritional food aid to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea) over the latter's insistence on satellite launch, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

"We have been forced to suspend our activities to provide nutritional assistance to North Korea," said Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, reported Xinhua.

The US believes that the DPRK's announcement of a satellite launch "reflects their lack of desire to follow through on their international commitments," Lavoy told a House Committee on Armed Services hearing on Korean Peninsula security.

"Our suspicions about North Korea using its celebrations this year to enhance its missile program were confirmed when North Korea announced on March 16 that it plans to conduct a missile launch between April 12 and 16," he claimed, calling the planned launch "highly provocative" as it "manifests North Korea's desire to test and expand its long-range missile capability."

"In addition, the launch, if it occurs, would be in direct violation of Pyongyang's international obligations, including UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, which prohibit North Korea from conducting any launches that use ballistic missile technology," he said.

The Pentagon official expressed regret at the suspension of the food aid, saying: "Why we're not providing that food assistance at this point is because our confidence in their ability to meet their agreements has been diminished. We do not use it as a lever to change their policies."

Under an agreement reached in late February, the DPRK agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment, nuclear and long-range missile tests and to allow UN inspectors to return to the country.

In return, the United States agreed to provide the DPRK with 240,000 tons of nutritional assistance. The two sides met early this month in Beijing over the administrative details of the programme.


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Title: US Suspends Food Aid to North Korea

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