The short version here is that North Korea and the United States agreed to a deal that would have seen the North Koreans end nuclear tests, long-range missile tests and uranium enrichment, and allow inspectors into the country, in exchange for food aid from the Americans. Then North Korea tested a long-range missile – a satellite, they claimed – that self destructed within seconds. The US responded by pulling the food aid. And now the North Koreans will abandon the deal.
North Korea said on Tuesday that it was abandoning an agreement it made in February with the United States, in which it promised to suspend uranium enrichment, nuclear tests and long-range missile tests.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry said that it “resolutely and totally” rejected the United Nations Security Council’s condemnation of its failed rocket launching last week, and that it would continue to launch rockets to try to place satellites into orbit.
The ministry’s statement hinted, but did not make clear, that the North may now conduct a long-range missile or nuclear test.
No longer bound by the deal, “we have thus become able to take necessary retaliatory measures,” the ministry said in the statement, which was carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. “The U.S. will be held wholly accountable for all the ensuing consequences.”
I would expect a nuclear test soon, in an attempt to save face.
I suppose in some world, the North Koreans believe that their long-range missile test didn’t count as part of the deal. Obviously the US disagrees. I would have hoped that the fact that the rocket failed, and that hundreds of thousands of North Koreans still live in starvation, could have enabled the food aid to continue to flow, even as the deal broke down. But no.
After all, it’s not like sanctions, which the UN Security Council passed in a resolution, are even that possible when it comes to North Korea. They couldn’t be more isolated.
The real shame here is that the death of Kim Jong-il has done approximately nothing to change North Korea’s relationship with the outside world. And more people will suffer as a result.