Philippines to continue pressure on N. Korea to stop rocket launch
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will continue to press North Korea to abandon its plan to launch a long-range rocket in April, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.
Del Rosario told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that “our statement of grave concern that we consider the satellite launch to be totally unacceptable will moreover be taken up by our government with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s embassy in Beijing, China, and with the DPRK’s permanent representative to the United Nations (in New York).”
The Department of Foreign Affairs head again urged Pyongyang to adhere to its recent pledge for a moratorium on long-range missile launches, together with nuclear tests and uranium enrichment activity.
On Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs urged Pyongyang “not to proceed with its planned rocket launch,” which was timed to coincide with mass celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of North Korea’s founding president, Kim Il-sung.
In a statement, the DFA expressed serious concern over the north Asian country’s “announced plan to launch a satellite between April 12 and 16, which we find unacceptable.”
It also urged North Korea to abide by UN Security Council resolutions.
One such resolution, which was passed after the country’s missile and nuclear tests in 2009, bans ballistic missile launches for any purpose.
Manila joins “other governments in urging North Korea to adhere to its recent pledge for a moratorium on long-range missile launches and nuclear tests,” said the DFA.
The Philippines is a long-time ally of the United States and South Korea, having sent troops to fight under the UN flag to defend the South from a North Korean invasion during the 1950-1953 war.
It established diplomatic relations with Pyongyang in 2000, one of the last Asian governments to do so.
The country does not operate an embassy or a consulate in North Korea. Instead, the embassy in the Chinese capital holds consular jurisdiction over Pyongyang.
According to Pyongyang, the first stage of the rocket was expected to fall in international waters about 140 kilometers off the South Korean west coast, while the second stage was projected to splash down some 190 km off the northeast coast of the Philippines.
North Korea has said the rocket will put a satellite in orbit. However, the US and its allies say it is a pretext for a missile test that would violate several UN resolutions.
Japan has threatened to shoot down the rocket, but any order to do so would first need the approval of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
The Philippines has called for Washington’s help to monitor the rocket launch.
The Armed Forces gave no word on preparations it was taking in the event of debris from the rocket landing on Philippine territory.
The planned rocket launch is expected to be the subject of intense discussion at the nuclear security summit in Seoul, which starts Monday and which will be attended by the presidents of the US, China and Russia, among other world leaders.
The South Korea-hosted summit will reportedly focus on nuclear terrorism.
North Korea’s state news agency said on Wednesday any attempt by Seoul to raise the rocket launch issue would be an “absolutely unpardonable criminal act,” adding “any provocative act would be considered a declaration of war against us.”
Vice President Jejomar Binay is representing President Aquino at the conference.
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