WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday voiced hope that North Korea would heed international calls to call off a missile launch after even Pyongyang’s main ally China expressed concern.
The State Department highlighted the unity in position among the five nations that were involved in moribund denuclearization talks with North Korea — China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
“We were heartened that every single one of the six-party talks participants made clear that they think this would be an extremely bad idea and a violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
“We are hoping and expecting that the DPRK will take that to heart,” Nuland said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The United States has warned that North Korea is putting at risk a deal it reached little more than two weeks earlier under which Washington would provide food assistance to the impoverished communist state.
North Korea has described its plans as a satellite launch and set a date of between April 12-16, part of national celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of the regime’s founder Kim Il-Sung.
North Korea has long been a thorn in relations between the United States and China, with many US experts believing that Beijing’s support has allowed Pyongyang to resist change.
Under the February 29 deal with the United States, North Korea agreed to halt nuclear and missile tests and uranium enrichment and to let in inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Asked if the United States would support a return of the inspectors despite plans for the missile launch, Nuland said that it would depend on how much access North Korea gives to the monitors.
“We don’t want them to waste their time, but we’re not opposed for opposition’s sake,” Nuland said.