North Korea said Friday that it intends to blast a satellite into space using a long-range rocket, an announcement that drew international condemnation and seemed to run counter to Pyongyang’s recent promise to halt weapons tests in exchange for food.
North Korea described the launch as both and scientific and celebratory: It will take place between April 12 and 16, to mark the centenary of founder Kim Il Sung’s birth.
The North’s announcement comes just 16 days after an agreement with the United States in which famine-stricken North Korea said it would halt parts of its nuclear program and suspend all weapons tests in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of food aid.
“If North Korea does conduct the launch, it kills the food deal,” said Dan Pinkston, a Seoul-based security expert at the International Crisis Group. “For the Obama administration, it becomes politically impossible.”