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UN Security Council 'deplores' North Korea launch
 
UNITED NATIONS, April 14 (BSS/AFP)- The UN Security Council said Friday it "deplored" North Korea's attempted rocket launch, as Washington halted plans to send food aid to Pyongyang saying the impoverished state cannot be trusted.

The UN's paramount security body imposed sanctions on the isolated North in 2006 and 2009 after it staged nuclear weapons tests. There are now fears that the communist state could stage a new nuclear test.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations and the council president for April, said it "deplored this launch" as a violation of the world body's resolutions.

The 15-member Security Council is still negotiating a possible "presidential statement" on the North Korean launch but diplomats said China had so far blocked moves to use stronger language.

It was "premature" to say what kind of measure the council might take, but the United States "thinks a credible reaction is important," Rice said.

China, the North's closest international ally, has yet to say publicly that it considers the North Korean act a breach of UN resolutions or international law, but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Beijing to do more.

Clinton spoke by telephone with Chinese Foreign Minister
Yang Jiechi as she sought a "unified way to speak out and condemn
this action," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We're asking them to use their relationship with North
Korea to convey our concern about their recent actions," Toner
told reporters.

Western states all condemned the launch of the rocket which
disintegrated soon after blastoff in a major embarrassment for
the reclusive communist state.

Russia, China and India, which are also on the Security
Council, have been more measured, urging all parties to show
restraint.

The most heated reaction to the politically explosive test
has come from the United States, Japan, South Korea and European
nations.

Japan and South Korea, which are on the frontline, have
demanded tough UN action on North Korea, which is now led by Kim
Jong-Un who took over after his father Kim Jong-Il died last
December.

The test was supposed to have been the centerpiece of
weekend commemorations marking the centenary of the birth of
North Korean founding leader Kim Il-Sung, and helping to
formalize a new cult of personality around Kim Jong-Un.

But the rocket flew for just over two minutes before it
broke up and fell into the Yellow Sea, with the North admitting
four hours later that the satellite had failed to enter orbit.

The United States had already suspended a plan to deliver
240,000 metric tons of food assistance aimed mainly at children
and pregnant women as North Korea prepared for the rocket launch.

President Barack Obama's administration, which had fine-
tuned the aid package for months before announcing it February
29, said it was "impossible" to move forward given the communist
state's actions.

"Their efforts to launch a missile clearly demonstrate that
they could not be trusted to keep their commitments," deputy
national security advisor Ben Rhodes said aboard Air Force One en
route to Colombia for an Americas summit.

"Therefore we are not going forward with an agreement to
provide them with any assistance."

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are believed to have
died in a famine in the 1990s. UN agencies estimated in November
after a visit to the North that three million people would need
food aid in 2012. David Austin, the North Korea program
director for Mercy Corps, one of five US non-governmental groups
that would have delivered the aid, was critical of the State
Department's decision.

"It is a shift to using food as a policy tool and it's one
that we have a lot of concern about. We think it's become a
distraction because it removes the focus from people who are in
need and people whom we can save," he told AFP.

Austin visited North Korea in March and said he spoke to an
administrator of an orphanage who told him children were
receiving 60 percent of normal daily rations and had not had any
protein for two months.
 
 
 
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