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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

N. Korea says criticism of rocket launches 'hostile act'

RIA Novosti

26/03/2009 16:34 MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told state media that if rocket launches in the country "are criticized" either by the UN Security Council or collectively, then this would be viewed as a "hostile act."

Pyongyang has announced it will launch a satellite at the beginning of April. The Japanese Jiji Press agency last week cited diplomats in Beijing as saying the launch would go ahead on April 4 barring adverse weather conditions or last-minute repairs.

"Such hostile acts breach the September 19 agreement of the Group of Six talks, and from that moment those talks will be stopped," the spokesman said.

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1718 on October 14, 2006, forbidding North Korea from conducting further nuclear tests or launches of ballistic missiles.

Japan has said it is ready to intercept the North Korean rocket if it poses a threat. South Korea has also urged its neighbor to call off the launch.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned North Korea that the firing of a missile of any kind would be a "provocative act" that could harm the six-party negotiations on the country's denuclearization.

North Korea announced plans last month to launch what it described as a communications satellite from the newly constructed Musudan-ri launch pad on the country's northeast coast. However, the U.S., Japan and South Korea believe that the secretive communist state is in fact planning to test its Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

Speaking to journalists in Mexico City, Clinton said the launch would be a violation of a UN Security Council resolution banning North Korea from ballistic activities.

"We believe it is important not to draw hasty conclusions, but to work from facts, and not to pass judgment before the event has taken place," Sergei Lavrov told a news conference on Thursday, urging Pyongyang however to comply with the UN resolution.

The talks, involving the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan, came to a standstill last December, over North Korea's refusal to allow international inspections at nuclear sites.

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