President Obama's admonition against firing a long-range rocket next month went unheeded by North Korea, which argued it is for economic development. Will China and Russia have any sway?
Seoul, South Korea
President Obama’s warnings of dire “consequences” if North Korea fires a long-range rocket next month encountered a quick and firm rebuff today from Pyongyang that underscored the North's determination to keep up its nuclear and missile programs in the face of widespread international condemnation.
As Obama flew home tonight after three days of intense talking about a range of nuclear issues at a conference of leaders of more than 50 countries, the sense among analysts here was that he had made little if any headway in tamping down North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a lengthy defense of the North's insistence on going through with the plan to fire the rocket, stressed that the reason is to put a satellite into orbit.
North Korea “will not give up the satellite launch for peaceful purposes,” the spokesman was quoted as saying. The launch was “a legitimate right of a sovereign state” and was “essential for economic development.”
The emphasis on “economic development” appeared as a rebuff not only of President Obama but also of China’s President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Both of them, in talks with Obama on the sidelines of the two-day nuclear security summit, expressed concern about North Korea’s insistence on firing the rocket. They clearly did not have a rocket launch in mind when they urged the North to focus on economic development.
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