U.S. Calls North Korean Missile Test Provocative


2005.05.02
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April 25, 1992. This handout picture shows a North Korean military unit of missiles during a military parade in Pyongyang. Photo: AFP/KCNA/KNS

WASHINGTON—The White House has called North Korea's weekend missile test the latest in “a series of provocative acts” and urged Pyongyang to return to six-country talks on its nuclear program.

Japanese media first reported the missile test on Sunday, with broadcaster NHK saying it flew 100 kms (60 miles) from North Korea into the Sea of Japan. They described it as most likely an anti-ship or small ballistic missile.

Yonhap, the official South Korean news agency, quoted intelligence officials in Seoul saying a missile was launched just north of Hamhung on North Korea's east coast.

“This is a continuation of a series of provocative acts by North Korea, and they only serve to further isolate North Korea,” spokesman Scott McClellan said, adding that “all parties in the region” agreed North Korea's only viable option was to rejoin six-party talks and scrap its nuclear program.

The negotiations, involving the United States, Russia, Japan, China and the two Koreas, have been stalled for nearly a year since a third round of negotiations in June last year.

Japan plays down missile firing

Japan, which neighbors North Korea, said it was treating Sunday's test as “a normal domestic military drill. It has no impact” on Japan's security, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card earlier denounced North Korea authorities as bullies and called the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, “not a good person.”

This is a continuation of a series of provocative acts by North Korea, and they only serve to further isolate North Korea.

The official North Korean news agency Saturday quoted the North Korean Foreign Ministry as calling U.S. President George Bush a “hooligan, bereft of any personality as a human being, to say nothing of stature as president of a country. He is a half-baked man in terms of morality, and a philistine whom we can never deal with.”

U.S. Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, last week told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea was able to mount a nuclear-tipped warhead on a long-range missile that could reach the United States.

The North is thought to have test-fired short-range missiles into the sea at least three times in 2003 amid condemnation of its suspected nuclear ambitions.

It test-fired a long-range missile over Japanese territory and into the Pacific Ocean in 1998, prompting Tokyo to start work on missile defense with the United States.

Pyongyang, which declared itself a nuclear state Feb. 10, recently halted operations at a key nuclear reactor. That sparked fears it might be extracting fissile material from spent fuel rods for use in atomic bombs.

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