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Romney lashes Obama over N Korea launch

13 April 2012, 10:15

Washington - US Republicans condemned North Korea's botched rocket launch on Thursday and blamed Democratic President Barack Obama for having sought to "appease" Pyongyang with a food aid deal.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney portrayed the launch of the long-range rocket as a failure of foreign policy, widely seen as the area where Obama is strongest going into November's presidential election.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the attempted North Korean missile launch," Romney said in a statement after news of the launch, which Washington, Seoul and Tokyo said appeared to have failed.

"Although the missile test failed, Pyongyang's action is another blatant violation of unanimous UN Security Council resolutions and demonstrates once again that Pyongyang is committed to developing long-range missiles with the potential of carrying nuclear weapons."

Romney said the weapons programme "poses a clear and growing threat to the United States, one for which President Obama has no effective response".

"Instead of approaching Pyongyang from a position of strength, President Obama sought to appease the regime with a food-aid deal that proved to be as naive as it was short-lived."

Fool's errand

Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the powerful House Foreign Affairs committee, also condemned the launch as betraying North Korea's "hostile intentions" and took aim at the food aid programme.

"This launch, taking place weeks after the [Obama] administration secured a 'promise' from Pyongyang to suspend missile tests in exchange for food aid, illustrates once again that trying to negotiate with the regime is a fool's errand," she said in a statement.

"Rather than working towards the next doomed agreement with North Korea, or other rogue regimes, the United States must impose stronger penalties and pressure on those who threaten global security."

The US scheme to send food aid to the nuclear-armed North's impoverished population was suspended after the North's announcement that it would launch the rocket, which Washington said proved Pyongyang could not be trusted.

North Korea has said the rocket would place a satellite in orbit for peaceful research purposes, but Western critics see the launch as a thinly veiled ballistic missile test, banned by United Nations resolutions.



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