Despite opposition from the international community, North Korea is likely to go ahead with the launch a long-range rocket in April, which will make it difficult to find a point of contact with the U.S.
The U.S. has said that if North Korea launches the rocket it “would make the implementation of any kind of a nutritional agreement quite difficult,” and that it would become harder to deal with North Korea in the future. However, North Korea has vowed to proceed anyway, even saying it will allow international experts and journalists to attend.
Lee Chun Keun of Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) told the Daily NK, “North Korea’s rocket launch is a violation of the Beijing agreement with the U.S. whereby food aid was to be provided for the suspension of missile launches, among other things.”
“We need to pay particularly close attention to the U.S.’ remarks that North Korea’s statements are not reliable,” he went on.
However, Lee added, “North Korea has proclaimed this year to be the year of the strong and prosperous state, and if they don’t do this then it will ask questions about that. They chose to play the best card they have against the international community.”
Oh Gyeong Seob, a researcher with the Sejong Institute predicted, “It would be hard for Kim Jong Eun to take back what he has said at this point”, adding, “But it will also be hard to find new middle ground between the U.S. and North Korea because the U.S. is being quite clear on this issue.”
“This is a clear violation of the Leap Day Agreement, and the U.S. will not tolerate it,” Oh explained.
If North Korea proceeds with the rocket launch it is likely that the issue will be brought to the UN Security Council, given that South Korea, the U.S. and the EU have called it a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. There is the possibility that U.S.-North Korea conflict could lead all the way to the November U.S. presidential election.
Conversely, the issue is less likely to be on the official agenda at the Nuclear Security Summit, which starts in Seoul on the 26th, although it will doubtless come up on an informal basis.