The White House bluntly warned North Korea on Tuesday that going ahead with a long-range rocket launch would mean an end to planned American food aid to the secretive and starvation-plagued country.
"It's impossible to imagine that we would be able to follow through (and) provide the nutritional assistance that we had planned on providing, given what would be a flagrant violation of North Korea's basic international obligations," Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One.
North Korea says its rocket launch, expected between Thursday and Monday, aims to put a satellite called Kwangmyongsong-3 (Shining Star) in orbit as it marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the regime's founder, Kim Il Sung. But the United States and other countries have denounced the move as an attempt to test, or show off, the country's ballistic missile capabilities.
Carney sounded as though Washington had not given up on international efforts to get Pyongyang to step back—but warned of diplomatic consequences if it does not.
"We're continuing to work with our international partners. The proposed missile launch, if conducted, would represent a clear and serious violation of North Korea's obligations under two United Nations Security Council resolutions that explicitly prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles," the spokesman said.
"We will work with our partners on next steps if North Korea goes through with this provocation, and we continue to urge countries that have influence on North Korea to work to persuade North Korea to consider a different path, the path that would lead to progress toward feeding its people, educating its people and ending its severe, self-imposed isolation," Carney said.
Carney delivered a similar warning Monday over news reports that North Korea could also soon move to conduct another underground nuclear test.
"We're not going to talk about intelligence assessments. But any action towards an underground test would be a provocative action and would be the kind of action that would demonstrate, again, to the international community, North Korea's refusal to live up to its obligations. But I don't have anything specific for you on those reports," Carney said.
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