The United States kept up its pressure on North Korea Friday, urging once again that it refrain from launching a rocket ― either military or scientific ― but stopped short of specifying a response to any such action.
"As to what will happen and when things happen, I'll have to leave that for a future discussion," State Department deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency in a daily news briefing. "Most interpret a launch, as well, as being a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718. I think the isolation that North Korea feels on this issue is something that should be noted by us, if it's not being taken to heart there."
The spokesman was referring to North Korea's claim that it is launching a rocket April 4-8 to orbit a communications satellite as part of its right to develop a space program.
U.S. President Barack Obama has expressed concerns over the North's imminent rocket launch and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has talked about "a range of options" that include additional sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.
China, North Korea's staunch communist ally, and Russia, however, appear to be reluctant to join the U.S. in sanctioning any satellite launch by the North as they, along with the U.S., are the countries most frequently launching satellites for commercial as well as military purposes.
Critics are skeptical of the claims by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other senior officials that the U.S. has the capability to shoot down any ballistic missile coming from North Korea, citing technological shortfalls and political ramifications. In the most recent sea-based test, a Japanese warship equipped with the U.S. Aegis missile defense system failed to intercept a test missile fired from Hawaii in November.
Earlier this week, Clinton proposed to hold missile talks with the North Koreans without elaborating on whether the talks should go along with the nuclear talks or separately.