N.Korea 'Told U.S. About Rocket Launch Last Year'

      April 12, 2012 11:43

      North Korea claims it informed the U.S. of plans to launch a space rocket in July last year, when senior officials from the two sides first met. Right after the North last month announced the imminent launch of the rocket, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan sent a letter to Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, claiming Pyongyang mentioned its plan to propel a satellite into orbit during the first high-level meeting between the two sides.

      In the letter obtained Wednesday by the Chosun Ilbo, Kim writes, "Since the first bilateral, high-level meeting, I made it clear that the long-range missile moratorium does not include satellite launches for peaceful purposes. And this provided a foundation for agreement between North Korea and the U.S."

      Kim met with Davies in Bali, Indonesia in July, then in Geneva in October and in Beijing in February this year, where they agreed the North would halt its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for food aid. The U.S. believes the rocket launch is a cover for a long-range missile test and violates the agreement as well as UN resolutions.

      Kim expresses concern that the U.S. could halt food aid, which would be "a clear violation" of the essence of what the two countries agreed. "Our relevant institute has already started technical procedures to stop the operation of the centrifuges at the uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon," he added, indicating that the North is abiding by the bilateral agreement.

      Kim then proposes further talks in Beijing or another convenient place at the earliest time to "personally" explain the North's stance and discuss ways to control the situation following the rocket launch.

      "It seems Kim sent the letter to claim that the planned missile launch aims to test a satellite and it is not a breach of the agreement between the U.S. and North Korea," a diplomatic source here said.

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