US: N. Korea still bound against nuclear test

The United States said Tuesday that North Korea remained bound not to conduct a feared third nuclear test after the regime lashed out at UN condemnation of its rocket launch.

North Korea warned it will "take necessary retaliatory measures" and said it would no longer adhere to a February 29 agreement with the United States, in which it promised to freeze its nuclear and missile programs.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that North Korea was still obliged to comply with UN Security Council resolutions that demanded no further nuclear tests after the regime donated atomic bombs in 2006 and 2009.

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"We believe that it's not just the commitments that North Korea made on Leap Day, but also existing Security Council resolutions that hold North Korea to the pledge not to conduct any nuclear tests," Toner told reporters.

Toner said that the United States "can't preclude anything at this point" but declined to discuss intelligence on whether North Korea would go ahead with a nuclear test.

"It's a very opaque regime," Toner said. "We parse out their public comments. We also know that in the past, as we've said, there's been this pattern of bad behavior."

North Korea said that its launch Friday was an unsuccessful bid to put a satellite into space amid national celebrations, but the United States and its allies believe it was a disguised test of a long-range missile.

North Korea's foreign ministry, in a statement carried by state media, rejected the "unreasonable" UN condemnation of the launch and accused the United States of "undisguised hostile acts."

The United States has suspended plans to send 240,000 tons of food aid aimed at hungry children and pregnant women in North Korea, which has experienced frequent food shortages, including a devastating famine in the 1990s.

by Hazel Ward © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Apr 17, 2012