Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: U.S. officials on Friday warned North Korea that they would cancel plans to send food aid to the reclusive nation if it pushes forwards with its planned satellite launch next month.
A State Department spokeswoman said that there were "grave concerns" about the planned satellite launch—which would rely on rocket to reach orbit, and looks suspiciously like a long-range missile test—and that the U.S. would cancel plans to send 240,000 tons of food aid to North Korea if it goes through with the launch, according to the Associated Press.
Friday, March 16: North Korea on Friday announced plans to use a long-range rocket to launch a satellite into orbit next month, a move that could complicate its recent pact with the U.S.
BBC explains that the announcement comes just two weeks after the U.S. agreed to send 240,000 tons of food aid to North Korea in exchange for freezing their weapons program. But the technology used to shoot the satellite into space is the same as what would be used in a long-range missile test.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already deemed the country’s new plans "highly provocative." A State Department spokesperson said a missile launch would threaten regional security and go against their agreement with Washington.
The North Koreans say that the satellite is a tribute to founder Kim Il Sung, and would be launched on the 100th anniversary of his birth, April 15. But the official reasoning is less than comforting because, as the Los Angeles Times reminds us, North Korea's two previous missile tests in 1998 and 2009 were also described as satellite launches.
The satellite is also seen as violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, and nearby countries are getting anxious with both South Korea and Japan speaking out against the launch.