Barack Obama has urged North Korea to cancel a rocket launch planned for next month, warning the regime that it had nothing to gain from “threats or provocations”. Speaking on the eve of an international summit on nuclear security in Seoul, the South Korean capital, Obama said the expected launch of a long-range rocket to coincide with the centenary of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, in mid-April, would deepen the country’s international isolation.
“Bad behaviour will not be rewarded,” Obama said after meeting the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak. “There had been a pattern, I think, for decades, in which North Korea thought if they had acted provocatively, then somehow they would be bribed into ceasing and desisting acting provocatively.” The US and its allies say the missile launch would be a violation of a UN ban on nuclear and missile activity; it could also derail a deal, reached last month, in which the North would halt missile tests and its uranium enrichment programme in return for US food aid. Obama called on China to use its influence as North Korea’s only ally and biggest aid donor to persuade the regime to return to six-party nuclear talks, stalled since the North walked out in 2009 and conducted its second nuclear weapons test.