US Warns of ‘Strong Response’ if North Korea Launches Rocket

By India Times

North Korea will face a “strong response” if it launches a long-range rocket next month despite international calls to desist, a special adviser to US President Barack Obama said on Friday.

“If they go ahead anyway, we will want to work with our allies and partners for a strong response,” Gary Samore, arms control coordinator at the National Security Council, told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency in an interview.

The North’s planned launch sometime between April 12 and 16 will be a key topic on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Seoul next week.

Obama has scheduled talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and other leaders attending the two-day event starting on Monday.

The North says it aims only to put a satellite into orbit for peaceful space research. The United States and its allies see the plan as a pretext for a long-range missile test, banned under UN Security Council resolutions.

“We have urged North Korea not to proceed with the announced satellite launch,” Samore said.

“We will be working with other countries, when President Obama is here (in Seoul), to try to discourage North Korea from going ahead with the proposed satellite launch.”

Asked about whether Pyongyang could be referred to the Security Council if it goes ahead, Samore told Yonhap: “Then, we will work with our friends to figure out what the most appropriate response will be.”

The North’s announcement of the launch came only weeks after it reached a deal with the United States, suspending uranium enrichment and nuclear and missile tests in return for 240,000 tonnes of US food aid.

Washington says any rocket launch is likely to jeopardise that deal.

“I really can’t speculate on why they are doing it, but we think it is a big mistake and we are trying to persuade them” not to proceed, Samore said.