April 13, 2012
By Kristen Welker, NBC News, and Ian Johnston
Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET: The United States has canceled a proposed food aid deal with North Korea following over its attempt to launch a long-range rocket taking a satellite into orbit.
Senior administration officials told NBC News the deal with Pyongyang is off after the rocket was fired. It failed shortly after launch and landed in the sea off the South Korea coast.
“We are not going forward with an agreement to provide them with any assistance,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes told reporters traveling with President Barack Obama to Florida.
He added that the U.S. and its allies will “take additional steps” if there are more “provocative actions.”
Earlier, the G-8 group of countries on Friday condemned North Korea, and a leading Republican said even a failed test would help North Korea develop “technology capable of delivering a nuclear weapon that can threaten American cities tomorrow.”
A U.S. official told NBC News that the launch was the fourth time the North Koreans had tried to launch this kind of missile, saying it should serve as a “real wake-up call” for the country’s new regime.
In a statement, foreign ministers of the G-8 — made up of the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, the U.K., Germany, France and Italy — raised the possibility of action by the United Nations.
“We, the G-8 Foreign Ministers, condemn the launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which is a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1695, 1718, and 1874,” the statement said.
Reuters graphic showing the rocket’s path
“Sharing the view that the launch undermines regional peace and stability, we call on the DPRK to abstain from further launches using ballistic missile technology or other actions which aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” it added.
It said they were “ready to consider, with others, taking measures responding to all activities of the DPRK that violate U.N. Security Council Resolutions.”
They said they might also call for what it described an “appropriate response” by the U.N. Security Council.
The foreign ministers urged North Korea to abandon “all its nuclear weapons and its existing nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner,” end its uranium enrichment activities, and take “concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization.”
A U.S. official told NBC News that the missile had failed shortly after launch, before the news was confirmed by North Korea itself.
“The North Korean missile failed shortly after launch,” the official said. “Think about it: This is the fourth failure to launch this missile as it was designed, and should serve as a real wake-up call for the new government.”
“Their efforts to draw attention to the program certainly seem to have backfired in this case,” the official added. “Everyone will be watching closely to see how the government handles this first real test.”
U.S. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl said in a statement that the missile launch was “yet another provocative action undertaken by the regime in Pyongyang.”
“The rocket that the North Koreans attempted to launch employs technology that is relatively identical to that of a ballistic missile, including similar guidance and propulsion systems,” he said. “Even a failed launch can provide useful information for North Korea’s development of technology capable of delivering a nuclear weapon that can threaten American cities tomorrow.”
He said the North Korean regime had “once again” demonstrated “complete disregard for international sanctions and its proclivity for worthless commitments.”