The International Atomic Energy Agency says it is now 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
Spokeswoman Gill Tudor made the announcement late
Tuesday, ending hopes for the visit for which IAEA officials began
negotiating with North Korea in March.
Earlier in the day,
Pyongyang said it was breaking off a bilateral agreement to halt its
nuclear activities and allow IAEA inspectors to enter the country after
the U.S. suspended much needed food aid. Washington said North Korea did
not keep its end of the bargain when it carried out its failed missile
launch on Friday.
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.
Department spokesperson Mark Toner said Tuesday that Pyongyang's
statement was "not surprising, given their recent behavior." He said he
could not predict whether North Korea is laying the ground work for a
future nuclear test, as some fear.
"Frankly, it's very difficult
to say. It's a very opaque regime. We parse out their public comments,"
said Toner. "We also know that in the past, there's been this pattern
of bad behavior. So we can't preclude anything at this point."
CIA Director Michael Hayden also refuses to speculate on whether North
Korea could follow up the failed missile launch with such a test. But he
tells VOA that he is concerned that the country's new leader, Kim Jong
Un, may feel pressured to solidify his power with an additional
"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," he said. "So I fear that this is the
course of action they may be on."
North Korea on Tuesday also
rejected the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of the failed launch.
On Monday, the Security Council ordered a tightening of sanctions aimed
at preventing North Korea from developing and exporting nuclear and
missile technology. The statement said the council will respond
accordingly to any further provocations by Pyongyang.
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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