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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

North Korea demands U.S. stop humanitarian aid supplies

RIA Novosti

17/03/2009 22:08 WASHINGTON, March 17 (RIA Novosti) - A U.S. State Department spokesman said Tuesday that the United States would stop humanitarian aid supplies to North Korea after the communist state requested Washington discontinue the program.

Robert Wood said the U.S. had received an official request from North Korea several days ago. The notification contained no reasons for the rejection of the aid.

"Clearly, this is food assistance that the North Korean people need. That's why we're concerned," he said.

He added that the State Department would continue to cooperate with NGOs working in North Korea to make sure that earlier delivered humanitarian aid had reached those in need of it.

Wood also said that in 2008 and 2009, the U.S. had supplied 169,000 metric tons of humanitarian aid to North Korea, with the last batch of 5,000 tons dispatched in late January.

The North Korean decision comes amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has called U.S.-South Korean military exercises preparation for war, and has also said that any attempt to shoot down what it calls a telecommunications satellite next month will also lead to armed conflict.

Seoul and Washington say the real purpose of the launch is to test a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which is thought to have a range of 6,700 kilometers (4,100 miles) and could possibly reach Alaska.

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