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IAEA Unlikely to Send Delegation to North Korea

April 19, 2012

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says the world body stands ready to take further action against North Korea if that country continues to pursue missile launches or nuclear tests.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Susan Rice said the United Nations' recent statement condemning North Korea's failed missile launch attempt is a "strong and united determination" that further acts will not be tolerated.

"One would hope against past precedent that the leadership in North Korea will see the wisdom of not pursuing further provocations and will recognize that the history of their pursuit of these further provocations is North Korea’s increasing isolation and increasing pressure from the international community," Rice said.

Her comments follow an announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is unlikely to send a delegation to North Korea, after Pyongyang stated it is no longer bound by an agreement with the United States not to test missiles and nuclear devices.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang said it was breaking off a bilateral agreement to halt its nuclear activities and allow IAEA inspectors to enter the country after the United States suspended much needed food aid. Rice reiterated that the suspension of food aid was a direct result of North Korea carrying out its failed launch on Friday, thus violating the agreement.

"They went ahead and launched the missiles, and so we made clear that there will be no food aid and that from a practical point of view that agreement is not operational since they went ahead and violated it and announced that they intended to violate it merely a few weeks after it was signed," she said.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry vowed to continue trying to fire a long-range rocket into space to place what it said was a weather satellite into orbit. It also vowed unspecified retaliation now that the agreement with the U.S. is no longer in place.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said he is concerned the country's new leader, Kim Jong Un, may feel pressured to solidify his power with an additional provocative act.

"We have seen this pattern in the past - where they have a missile launch, the rest of the world has responded, and rather than compromise and negotiate, the North has taken another provocative action. And in two instances, the provocative action has been an attempt at a nuclear test. So I fear that this is the course of action they may be on," Mayden said.

North Korea on Tuesday rejected the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of the failed launch. The council ordered a tightening of sanctions aimed at preventing North Korea from developing and exporting nuclear and missile technology.

North Korea insists it was within its legal rights when it launched the rocket last week. The rocket broke apart and fell into the Yellow Sea. The launch prompted criticism from the United Nations, long-time North Korean ally China, the United States, Japan, and the European Union. Critics accused the North of using the satellite scenario as a cover for testing ballistic missile technology banned under United Nations resolutions.

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