North Korea has warned South Korea over some of the language Seoul has taken in describing next week’s Nuclear Security Summit as a forum to discuss North Korea and Iran’s “illegitimate” atomic activities.
Pyongyang officials said such rhetoric may be akin to a declaration of war.
North Korea also warned that it will consider it a “provocation” if the summit specifically discuses Pyongyang’s nuclear program as part of its agenda.
Any provocation will amount to a declaration of war against the DPRK [North Korea] and result in throwing a stumbling block in the way of discussing the denuclearization of the peninsula,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will host U.S. President Barack Obama, China's President Hu Jintao, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for the two-day summit.
These four countries, along with the two Koreas, comprise the so-called “Six-Party Talks” which was formed to find a peaceful resolution to issues raised by North Korea’s nuclear program.
However, North Korea will not appear at the summit and has raised worries in her southern neighbor and other countries by announcing that it plans to launch a long-range rocket in April in honor of the centenary of the country's founder Kim Il-sung.
That planned launch clearly violates the United Nations ban on North Korea firing ballistic missiles and would also appear to compromise the agreement Pyongyang has entered into with the U.S. to suspend its nuclear ambitions in exchange for food aid.
North Korea has maintained that its agreement with the U.S. remains in force and has even invited UN nuclear inspectors into the country.
South Korea’s foreign minister Kim Sung-hwan told Reuters: there is no question that [the] international community has serious concerns about the illegitimate nuclear activities of North Korea and Iran.”
Kim added: As major leaders -- including leaders of the participating countries in the six-party talks -- will attend the Seoul summit, the North Korean nuclear issue will naturally be discussed on the separate occasions such bilateral talks on the margins of the summit.”
Perhaps the most important player in this drama is China which has gently warned its erstwhile ally North Korea against pursuing a nuclear program. President Lee of South Korea is expected to pressure Hu of China to put the squeeze on North Korea.
Leon Sigal, a former adviser to the U.S. government on North Korea issues, told Voice of America that Pyongyang’s plan to launch a satellite next month may pose some grave complications.
A rocket launch would be confidence-destroying,” he said. “Unless it is suspended, fruitful dialogue will come to an end, I’m sorry to say.”
Japan is also wary of North Korea’s satellite launch and warned it will take “all possible measures to ensure that people and property are safe” – suggesting Tokyo may even seek to shoot the satellite down should it violate Japanese airspace.