North Korea has linked the fate of talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons to its planned launch of a long-range rocket. Pyongyang is warning any new international sanctions will cause those talks to fail.
The European Union added its voice to that of the United States, Japan and South Korea, Wednesday, in warning the launch would violate a United Nations resolution. A news release following a high-level EU visit to the North says the launch would also "send a wrong signal to the international community."
The U.N. Security Council passed a measure prohibiting North Korean ballistic missile launches in 2006, after Pyongyang conducted nearly back-to-back long-range missile and nuclear-weapons tests.
However, Pyongyang has provided international agencies with detailed coordinates for what it says will be a satellite launch in early April. South Korea, Japan and the United States suspect the launch is a cover for a ballistic-missile test. North Korean official media is ridiculing those concerns in an official announcement, calling it "perverse" to say the matter would need to be dealt with by the U.N. Security Council.
The North's announcement went on to say, if U.N. sanctions are imposed, "there will be neither the foundation nor the meaning for the existence" of six-nation talks aimed at getting rid of its nuclear arms.
South Korea's chief delegate to those talks, Wi Sung-lac, downplayed the North's linkage between the two issues. He says it seems natural, if the North launches long-range missiles, that there will have to be countermeasures that elevate tensions, in the short run. However, he believes there will still be chances for the nuclear talks to resume.
Wi returned Wednesday from Beijing, where he met with Chinese officials. More Chinese diplomacy is going on in Seoul, where the chief of China's People's Liberation Army met with his South Korean counterparts.
South Korean officials say they are urging China to use its considerable influence with North Korea to discourage the rocket launch.