North Korea has insisted that its satellite-launch announcement, which shocked the world on Friday, is not a breach of the anti-nuclear deal with the United States and invited UN inspectors at its nuclear premises.
The United States replied that any kind of launch would breach the recent agreement signed on February 29. North Korea said then it would partially freeze nuclear activities and the U.S. shipped significant food aids to the impoverished Asian country.
“The satellite launch is one thing and the DPRK-US agreement is another,” said North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong-Ho. “In order to implement the agreement [with the US], we’ve sent a letter of invitation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to send inspectors to our country.”
Japan’s defense minister Naoki Tanaka reacted Monday by saying Japan would destroy the rocket North Korea is preparing to launch if it poses a danger to his country. South Korea, in its turn, condemned North Korea’s planned satellite launch as a “grave provocation”. It said it was aimed at developing a long-range ballistic missile to deliver nuclear weapons.
North Korea said Friday it will launch the Kwangmyongsong-3, an indigenously manufactured Earth observation satellite, in mid-April, but the plan has sparked widespread criticism as it is widely seen as a disguised long-range ballistic missile test.