US suspends food aid to North Korea (Lead)

March 29th, 2012 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 29 (IANS) The US has suspended its planned nutritional food aid to North Korea over the latter’s insistence on launching a satellite, a Pentagon official said.

“We have been forced to suspend our activities to provide nutritional assistance to North Korea,” Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said Wednesday.

The US believes North Korea’s announcement of a satellite launch reflects its “lack of desire to follow through on their international commitments”, Xinhua quoted Lavoy as telling a House Committee on Armed Services.

“Our suspicions about North Korea (vis-a-vis) its missile programme were confirmed when North Korea announced on March 16 that it plans to conduct a missile launch between April 12 and 16,” he said.

He called the planned launch “highly provocative” as it “manifests North Korea’s desire to test and expand its long-range missile capability.

“In addition, the launch, if it occurs, would be in direct violation of Pyongyang’s international obligations … which prohibit North Korea from conducting any launches that use ballistic missile technology,” he said.

Under an agreement reached in February, North Korea agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment, nuclear and long-range missile tests and to allow UN inspectors to return to the country.

In return, the US agreed to provide North Korea with 240,000 tonnes of nutritional assistance.

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