U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the long-range missile launch North Korea is apparently preparing for would be a provocative act that would have consequences for Pyongyang. Clinton spoke in Mexico City amid reports North Korea has moved multi-stage missile to a launch pad.
U.S. officials have warned North Korea against going ahead with what it says will be the launch of an experimental space satellite early next month.
Clinton's remarks, at a news conference here with Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, were the most explicit on the subject to date by the Obama administration.
U.S. officials say the self-described satellite launch would only be a cover for a test of a long-range missile, perhaps a more advanced version of the one North Korea fired eastward over Japan in 1998.
Clinton said a North Korean missile launch, for any purpose, would be a provocative act and a violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1718 - approved after its 2006 nuclear test-demanding an end to Pyonyang's nuclear weapon and missile programs.
"We have made it very clear that the North Koreans pursue this pathway at a cost, and with consequences to the six-party [nuclear] talks, which we would like to see revived and moving forward as quickly as possible," said Hillary Clinton. "And we intend to raise this violation of the Security Council resolution, if it goes forward, in the U.N., and coincidentally Mexico will be chairing the Security Council starting in April."
Clinton was not specific about diplomatic action that might be taken in the event of a launch, other than to say it would not go unnoticed and would have consequences.
North Korea has said punitive U.N. action would bring about the collapse of the Chinese-sponsored six-party talks, in which North Korea agreed in principle two year ago to scrap its nuclear program in return for energy aid and diplomatic benefits.
North Korea has shut-down and partly dismantled its nuclear reactor complex under terms of the accord. But negotiations have been stalled for months over Pyongyang's refusal to accept a verification program for the declaration of its nuclear holdings and activities it made last June.
The Obama administration in February named retired senior diplomat Stephen Bosworth as a special envoy for North Korea, with the aim of reviving the nuclear talks. But on his only mission to the region, earlier this month, he did not get an invitation to visit Pyongyang.