North Korea took a hardline stance on humanitarian aid Tuesday, as negotiations could be stalling with the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility. File Photo by Yonhap News Service
July 6 (UPI) -- North Korea's foreign ministry said Tuesday that humanitarian aid interferes with national sovereignty as COVID-19 vaccine distribution could be being postponed in the country.
Pyongyang's foreign ministry said outside assistance is "economic infiltration" and that the "acts of certain countries interfere, infringe" for the "purpose of pursuing profits and realizing dominance" over others, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
"This should never be tolerated," North Korea said.
North Korea's criticism of foreign aid, which often has helped the country overcome food shortages and health crises in the past, comes as coronavirus vaccines are being delayed.
The Kim Jong Un regime has refused to allow in international health workers for distribution, a requirement for the World Health Organization's COVAX facility, Voice of America's Korean service reported Sunday.
A source familiar with ongoing negotiations between COVAX and Pyongyang said that North Korea had only completed "two of the seven administrative procedures necessary to supply vaccines," the report said.
North Korea also has expressed concerns about the safety of AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX, and rejected offers of help from the international community to establish a cold chain for the vaccines. North Korea originally was scheduled to receive 1,704,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX.
Pyongyang's foreign ministry also said "aid and cooperation" was like "throwing a bait" and a prelude to "political reform" in a target country.
"It is a fact that the world knows that political interference and violations of sovereignty are perpetrated in sovereign states by means of various conditions, such as election monitoring," the foreign ministry said.
"Sovereignty cannot be given to anyone or yielded by compromise or submission, and can only be embraced when we fight against injustice and tyranny with united power."
Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization said last month that South Korea pledged to donate $200 million to the COVAX facility.
Seoul previously said it was open to "sharing" COVID-19 vaccines with the North.