Posted : 2012-12-04 05:29
Updated : 2012-12-04 05:29

US to mull 'appropriate actions' if NK fires rocket: Samore

A senior security aide to President Barack Obama said Monday the U.S. is concentrating efforts in cooperation with South Korea, China, Russia and Japan to dissuade North Korea from pressing ahead with another rocket launch.

Gary Samore emphasized that if the launch takes place Washington will take "appropriate actions."

"We've made it very clear that we consider this to be a very unfortunate provocative event, which is not going help North Korea nor the people of North Korea," Samore told Yonhap News Agency.

He spoke to Yonhap during a break from a Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) forum at Fort McNair, a military base in Washington.

Samore said the Obama administration's commitment to dealing with North Korea's pending rocket launch in close coordination with regional allies and powers, especially those that participated in the now-suspended six-party talks aimed at eliminating Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

"And we will be working very closely with our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, as well as other partners like China and Russia to try to discourage North Korea from taking this step," he said. "And if they do take it we will consider appropriate responses."

He expressed hope that such diplomatic efforts will avert the communist nation's launch plans.

"I hope that they will listen to other countries and recognize what they are doing is only going to increase isolation and cause more hardship for North Korean people," said Samore, coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism at the White House National Security Council.

He would not go into details on what the U.S. would do if the North remains recalcitrant.
"We are going to have consultations with our partners and allies in the region," he said. "And we will decide what the appropriate actions are after that."

North Korea has announced that it will launch what it claims to be a satellite booster between Dec. 10 and 22.

The North marks the first anniversary of the death of its long-time leader Kim Jong-il, father of the current ruler, Kim Jong-un, on Dec. 17.

Pundits say that Pyongyang's move appears to be associated with domestic politics.

"It seems possible that the decision to launch is driven by some domestic considerations," Andrei Lankov, a renowned North Korea expert teaching at Kookmin University in Seoul, said in emailed comments.

When the North made an unsuccessful attempt to send a rocket into space in April, he pointed out, it admitted failure.

"This admission clearly damaged the position of the top military, who were under pressure," the professor said.

As some of those top military officers have been purged, "one might expect a launch which will be claimed successful, so this success can be attributed to the new leadership," he added.

Pyongyang has also aimed to become a self-styled "mighty and prosperous" nation by the end of this year.

Scott Snyder, a senior analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, stressed the North's rocket launch would be a "huge and costly gamble."

"It is hard to understand what benefits North Korea perceives can be gained by going forward with this," he said. "We simply don't know at this stage whether Kim Jong-un is getting bad advice or is making bad decisions himself."

Undoubtedly, Snyder added, any response to the launch will involve further United Nations Security Council discussions, which will come as an "early foreign policy test for China's new leadership team."

North Korea is banned from pursuing any ballistic missile launch under U.N. resolutions.

In adopting a presidential resolution to condemn Pyongyang's April launch, the council vowed to take more actions if it fires a ballistic missile again.

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