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N. Korea to face international punishment in case of rocket launch: U.S. official

All News 03:02 January 30, 2016

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea should expect to see the world not only issue strong condemnations, but also take action to punish the regime if it conducts a long-range rocket launch, a senior U.S. nonproliferation official said.

Concerns have grown that the North could carry out a long-range rocket launch in coming weeks, with satellite imagery of the country's rocket site showing what were believed to be preparation activities. A rocket launch would represent a serious act of defiance just a few weeks after a nuclear test.

"Such activities are clearly forbidden by the United Nations Security Council, and you should expect the rest of the world, including the United States and including China, not just to strongly condemn such a test but also to take appropriate action," Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Tom Countryman told reporters during a briefing Thursday.

Countryman hosted a conference on Wednesday of countries committed to the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) campaign aimed at stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery means and related materials.

Representatives from 70 of the 105 PSI-endorsing countries attended the meeting. In light of the North's Jan. 6 nuclear test, they reaffirmed the importance of using the PSI and all other cooperative means to prevent the transfer of WMD technology to the North.

"Without question, the efforts made by the United States and our partners have slowed down both the nuclear and the ballistic missile program in North Korea but obviously have not brought it to a complete halt," Countryman said during the briefing.

"We do need to work harder on preventing such exports. We also need to recognize that a change in North Korea's policy requires the world to do more than simply work harder against technology shipments. There needs to be a price that the North Korean regime pays in order for there to be a change in policy in North Korea."

He also said that the North's byeongjin policy of simultaneous pursuit of economic and nuclear development is a "mistaken belief."

"This is not possible. They will not have a normal political or economic relationship with the rest of the world as long as they possess nuclear weapons," the official said. "And it will require a unified voice from the world sending that message to change that policy."

jschang@yna.co.kr
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