Japan‘s Noda urges NK to cancel rocket launch
TOKYO (Yonhap) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda urged North Korea on Monday to drop a plan to launch a long-range rocket next month, saying the North's maneuver will undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
"If North Korea goes ahead with the rocket launch, it will retreat efforts to resolve relevant issues through dialogue," Noda said in a written interview with Korean correspondents ahead of an international summit on nuclear security in Seoul.
"The rocket launch plan to put a satellite into orbit would be a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and harm peace and stability in the region," Noda said.
North Korea has announced it will blast off a long-range rocket in mid-April to put what it called a "working" satellite into orbit, building up the first tension since the December death of its long-time leader Kim Jong-il.
South Korea, Japan and the United States have defined the North's rocket launch plan as a disguised test of its improved long-range missile technology.
The North's move also jeopardizes an aid-for-denuclearization deal it signed with the U.S. in late February, promising to suspend its uranium enrichment and allow in U.N. nuclear monitors in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid.
The North's missile program has long been a regional security concern, along with its nuclear programs. The country is believed to have advanced ballistic missile technology, though it is still not clear whether it has mastered the technology to put a nuclear warhead on a missile. Pyongyang has carried out two nuclear tests, first in 2006 and then in 2009.
Noda is among more than 50 world leaders who attended the two-day Nuclear Security Summit starting Monday in Seoul. The summit's main agenda includes safeguarding nuclear materials and ensuring atomic safety.
In the wake of last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster, Noda said that South Korea, Japan and China have been in three-way talks to strengthen their joint response in case of emergency.
"Specific action plans on the three-nation cooperation are being discussed to strengthen joint responses," Noda said.
During the summit, Noda said he will talk about the lessons his government has learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The summit's main agenda includes ensuring atomic safety.
A powerful earthquake and an ensuing tsunami devastated Japan's Northeastern region last March, killing some 20,000 people. It destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plants, causing environmental havoc to the area.
The accident, classified as the worst nuclear calamity since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, prompted countries with nuclear power plants to further review the safety of their atomic energy. (Yonhap)