The United States has repeatedly said it is not linking food aid to nuclear talks with North Korea. But its latest decision says otherwise.
Both parties have been doing the cha-cha on food aid for years. The United States stopped sending food aid to North Korea following the latter’s decision to expel aid groups in 2009. Food aid talks were resumed last year, but the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il prompted the United States to delay its decision.
In February, the United States agreed to send some 240,000 metric tons of food aid after the reclusive Asian country agreed to stop its nuclear programs, including long-range missile testing. North Korea’s announcement of a planned satellite launch in April, however, has put food assistance in peril.
Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs, told lawmakers from the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday (March 28) that Washington has been “forced” to suspend its plans to provide nutritional assistance to North Korea.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said North Korea’s decision was a “deal-breaker.”
“We have no confidence in their good faith right now,” Nuland said, adding that Pyongyang can “cancel” its plans to launch the satellite if it wishes to win back Washington’s “confidence.”
North Korea has insisted the planned launch is only for scientific purposes, BBC reports. But the United States and other countries believe it is a long-range missile test, banned under U.N. Security Council resolution 1874.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.