South Korea’s foreign minister, Kim Sung-hwan, today branded the North Korean plan to launch a rocket “a grave provocation” intended to test “a vehicle with nuclear weapons.” Mr. Kim bristled, however, when asked about a threat by the North to view any mention of North Korea at the summit as “a declaration of war.”
“Individual issues will not be discussed at the nuclear summit,” he said. “I do not know why they keep saying that.” Rather, he said, “This is a peace summit,” dedicated to coming out with rules to keep terrorists from acquiring and using nuclear weapons.
North Korea’s plan comes as a bitter disappointment, considering that US nuclear envoy Glyn Davies and North Korea’s envoy Kim Kye-gwan came up with a deal on Feb. 29 that was widely described as “a breakthrough.” Mr. Kim said North Korea would observe a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests while Mr. Davies said the US would provide 240,000 tons of food aid.
“So what is Pyongyang up to?” asks Ralph Cossa, who runs the Pacific forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu. “The North Koreans pulled the rug out from everyone” at a time when it appeared “safe to go back to six-party talks,” last held in December 2008, on the North’s nuclear program, Mr. Cossa says.