US Suspends Food Assistance to North Korea

People work in a field outside of Kaesong, North Korea, April 17, 2011. North Korea's perennial food shortage reached a crisis point in 2011, aid workers say, because of torrential rains, the coldest winter in 60 years and rising food prices.
People work in a field outside of Kaesong, North Korea, April 17, 2011. North Korea's perennial food shortage reached a crisis point in 2011, aid workers say, because of torrential rains, the coldest winter in 60 years and rising food prices.

The United States says it has suspended a food aid package to North Korea in response to Pyongyang's plans to carry out a missile launch next month. While the North says its plan to hurl the satellite into space is peaceful, the U.S. and other countries say the launch could help it further its ballistic missile technology.

Peter Lavoy, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, told a congressional hearing the U.S. is working together with allies in the region to try and discourage the North from going ahead with the launch because it would violate Pyongyang's international commitments. He says that failure of North Korea to follow through on what it has promised raises concerns about the nutritional assistance the U.S. has offered as well.

"We have been forced to suspend our activities to provide nutritional assistance to North Korea largely because we have now no confidence that the monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the food assistance goes to the starving people and not the regime elite," Lavoy said.

Late last month, North Korea announced it would temporarily suspend nuclear tests, long-range ballistic missile launches and other nuclear activities. In return, Washington, pledged to provide the North with 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance.

The aid package was expected to target the most needy in North Korea - including malnourished young children and pregnant women.

U.S. food aid to the North had been suspended since Pyongyang expelled U.S. food monitors in 2009 after U.S. officials voiced concerns about food distribution.

For now, Pyongyang is resisting calls to cancel the launch, and Lavoy says that violates last month's deal.

"When we recently reached this deal, this did prohibit North Korean missile launches, and we indicated at the time that a satellite missile launch we would interpret as a missile launch because it would use missile technology," Lavoy said,

In addition to the military applications of the launch, there are other concerns as well, Lavoy adds.

"The North Koreans have indicated that they will launch the missile in a southward direction. And I don't know if we have any confidence on the stability of the missile or where the actual impact will be. A number of countries are potentially affected. This could fall on, the debris could fall on their countries. It could cause casualties," Lavoy said.

The U.S. and South Korea say North Korea's two previous launches failed to put satellites into orbit, but Pyongyang insists it succeeded with its last launch in 2009.

Speaking through its state media on Wednesday, North Korea says the satellite launch is intended to estimate crop production and analyze the country's natural resources.

The official KCNA report also quotes an unnamed space program official as saying the North would show the peaceful nature of the satellite by inviting experts and journalists to witness its launch.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: t
March 30, 2012 7:35 AM
We have starving children in this country we sure as he++ don't need to be sending food to any country like N. Korea or ANY Muslim country. We need to work with the UN and only put up 1/10 of whatever the UN wants to provide to ANY country, and only if it is monitored.

by: Dear Pudgy One
March 29, 2012 10:51 AM
Hey you usa you send food or we fire ding dong 2 rocket or maybe it fall over on launch pad and blow us up.

by: Ted
March 29, 2012 2:07 AM
It is a sin that the United States and other countries use food as a weapon. We will all rot in hell because of what our government does.

by: kissela
March 29, 2012 1:43 AM
I think that US, must not only suspend the food aid to North Korea, but give to NK an ultimate to cancel the launch and if they don't do that the US and other countries should invade, because NK is still make the missile test to intimidate not only the South Korea, but all the great powers...

by: hamad part 3 of 3
March 29, 2012 1:01 AM
poverty . Who have not cared about Americans rights themselves ,do you think they will care about others rights ? People start liberating themselves from fear which their bias media have been spreading over all those years. Let them live in fear too,if you want to live free .

by: chalie
March 28, 2012 11:06 PM
the act of Asian countries, the Arabworld, & Russia is to undermine us superiority in the global scale! I love USA which the master of the world. please suspend your assistance to such an extrimist nation of NorthKorea!

by: Mark Murata
March 28, 2012 10:54 PM

by: Mr. Vaclav Pisko
March 28, 2012 5:58 PM
Obama's statement regarding the Russia-USA missile/nuclear control agreement was correctly interpreted by the Pyongyang regime as a green light for its missile test food shortage notwithstanding.The current resident of The White House is fully aware of the international situation(s),yet he chose to ignore all and selfishily devotes his time and efforts to his re-election only.

by: Kitten
March 28, 2012 5:40 PM
Why not North Korea can ballistic missile technology? It should be fair that every country should have equal opportunity to develop the same things as others.

by: Exenon
March 28, 2012 5:30 PM
Proping up this absurd and evil meanace to the world is an affront to all who are menaced by them. Have they the weapons that are not vintage, the oil to carry out conflict? No way only the threat os self immolation. Shoot their joke rocket out of the sky as soon as it leavesthe country. yiu have the means; enploy them.
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs