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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


N. Korea Warns Against Sanctions, Rocket Launch Interference

By VOA News
24 March 2009

North Korea is warning the international community to not interfere with its plans to launch a communications satellite into space next month.

In a statement Tuesday, the North's Foreign Ministry warned the United Nations to not use sanctions against it. The ministry said that such actions would violate the spirit of a disarmament-for-aid pact Pyongyang signed with five other countries in 2007.

The North also reasserted what it says is its right to the peaceful development of its space program.

North Korea announced Saturday that it will close two aviation routes through its air space from April 4 through April 8, during the time it plans to launch its rocket into space.

The United States, Japan and South Korea say Pyongyang intends to use the launch as a test of its long-range ballistic missile capability.

North Korea's comments come as South Korea's top nuclear negotiator arrived in China for talks Tuesday.

During his trip, Wi Sung-lac, is expected to focus on North Korea's plans to launch a rocket early next month as well as the stalled negotiations on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.

During his visit in China, Wi is scheduled to meet with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei on Tuesday and Wednesday. After that he heads to Washington for more talks.

Before arriving in Beijing, Wi told Seoul's Yonhap news agency his main focus in Beijing would be discussing measures to take before and after North Korea fires a missile.

Japan and South Korea have warned North Korea it will face a strong international response if it goes ahead with the launch.

They have said the launch would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution imposed in 2006 after North Korea tested long-range missiles and a nuclear weapon.

Top U.S. military commanders told members of Congress last week the American military is probably capable of shooting down a North Korean missile if it threatens U.S. territory.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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