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North Korea Fires Missile Into
Sea Of Japan

File photo of a long range missile launch

North Korea may launch another missile Wednesday: report
TOKYO, Feb 25 (AFP) - North Korea is likely to launch another missile on Wednesday, a report said Tuesday, quoting several Japanese government officials. The officials said they had received "information that Pyongyang will launch a missile again," Kyodo News agency said. No confirmation of the report was available from Japan's defence agency. North Korea fired a missile Monday into international waters in the Sea of Japan, a South Korean defence ministry official said. Japan's government said Tuesday it knew North Korea had fired a missile into the Sea of Japan and was investigating details.
Seoul (AFP) Feb 25, 2003
North Korea has fired a missile into the Sea of Japan, triggering renewed tension Tuesday as South Korea prepared to swear-in a new president who has pledged to seek a peaceful resolution to Pyongayng's nuclear weapons drive.

The missile was fired Monday into international waters in the Sea of Japan, a South Korean defense ministry official said, adding there were no details immediately available about the type of missile fired, or about its range.

"The only information we have is that a missile was fired from an unknown location in North Korea into the East Sea (Sea of Japan)," he said.

"We are trying to determine whether it was designed to test a new missile or just part of an exercise by North Korea troops," he said.

North Korea said it was unable to confirm that a missile had been launched, according to a Xinhua news agency report from Pyongyang, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said that a ground-to-ship missile launched by North Korea fell into the sea 60 kilometers (36 miles) off the east coast of North Korea's South Hamgyong province.

Japanese media said the missile was a surface-to-vessel short-range Silkworm with a maximum range of 100 kilometres.

Jiji Press news agency quoted a Japanese defence agency source as saying North Korea fired two missiles, believed to be old Chinese models, at different times Monday but one of them failed.

News of the missile firing emerged as senior world figures, including US Secretary of State Colin Powell, gathered here for the inauguration Tuesday of South Korea's new President Roh Moo-Hyun.

Amid international outcry and pressure over its nuclear weapons drive, North Korea has threatened to lift its self-imposed moratorium on missile tests.

North Korea agreed to a moratorium on missile testing after it caused international alarm in 1998 when it test-fired a ballistic missile that flew over northeastern Japan into the Pacific Ocean.

Last month as the nuclear crisis deepend, North Korea pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and then threatened to resume missile testing.

The White House in Washington said it was looking into reports that North Korea had fired a missile.

A US administration official said the US believes "this was a launch of a shorter-range tactical missile," not a ballistic one.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Tokyo was "collecting and analysing information" on the North's new missile launch.

"At least we do not have information that a ballistic missile was launched," he said.

Reports of the missile launch dragged down share prices in Tokyo and Seoul.

Investors dumped the yen in Japan where experts have warned Pyongyang might resume missile tests after Washington cut off fuel shipments in December last year over the North's nuclear weapons drive.

According to South Korean defence ministry data, North Korea is currently testing Taepodong-1 missiles with a range of 2,500 kilometers and is also developing longer-range missiles.

In 1993, North Korea test-launched into the Sea of Japan a Rodong-1 missile with a range of 1,300 kilometers after testing two types of crude Scud missiles.

The 1998 missile launch prompted Japan to go ahead with studying a missile interception scheme with the United States in 1999.

The Stalinist country has accused the United States of setting in motion invasion plans by launching a massive arms build-up, and insists it has a right to self-defence.

Pyongyang has warned it could strike US targets anywhere in the world.

Japanese officials have said Tokyo could ask US forces to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korean missile bases if Pyongyang was preparing to fire missiles at its territory.

Sanctions could be justified as a missile launch breaches a declaration signed by North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-Il and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at a historic summit in Pyongyang last September.

Japan launches probe after North Korea fires missile
TOKYO, Feb 25 (AFP) - Japan said Tuesday it knew North Korea had fired a missile into the Sea of Japan and was investigating, but it avoided criticising Pyongyang, which has promised a missile launch moratorium.

"We first received information on the missile launch yesterday and we are now collecting information on the details," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told reporters.

The Kyodo news agency also quoted government officials as saying North Korea may launch a second missile on Wednesday, although the report was not confirmed by Japan's defence agency.

Fukuda said Monday's test weapon appeared to be a ground-to-ship missile with a short-range of 100 kilometres (60 miles). "At least we do not have information that a ballistic missile was launched," he added.

North Korea had offered no forewarning about the launch, he said.

Asked whether Tokyo would ask Pyongyang for further details, Fukuda said: "I doubt this will be effective as I do not know they will answer our questions."

Jiji Press news agency quoted a Japanese defence agency source as saying North Korea fired two missiles at different times Monday but one of them failed.

Both missiles are believed to be old Chinese models, the source was quoted as saying. Reports said they were likely to be China-developed Silkworms.

Taku Yamasaki, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, reportedly said the missile had been fired northeast in the direction of Russia.

North Korea agreed to a moratorium on missile testing after it caused international alarm in 1998 when it test-fired a Taepodong ballistic missile that flew over northeastern Japan into the Pacific Ocean.

In a historic summit with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi last September, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il pledged to extend the moratorium beyond its original expiry date of 2003.

Fukuda said firing of a short-range missile "would not violate the Pyongyang declaration signed last year because this prohibits mid- and long-range missiles that threaten the security of Japan."

"We are not considering consulting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on this matter," he said. Koizumi is in Seoul to attend the inauguration.

The missile was fired Monday into international waters in the Sea of Japan, a South Korean defence ministry official said.

South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said that a ground-to-ship missile launched by North Korea fell into the sea 60 kilometers (36 miles) off the east coast of North Korea's South Hamgyong province.

News of the missile firing emerged as senior world figures, including US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Koizumi, gathered in Seoul for the inauguration Tuesday of South Korea's new President Roh Moo-Hyun.

Military expert Motoaki Kamiura told Japan's private Fuji network that he believed North Korea had used Silkworms.

"There is no need at all to make a big fuss... as it does not pose any threat" to security, Kamiura said.

"The purpose (of firing) must be to throw cold water over the presidential inauguration today" in the presence of other leaders from around the world, he said.

All rights reserved. 2003 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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North Korea Eases Rhetoric Over Nuclear Crisis
Seoul (AFP) Feb 19, 2003
In an abrupt departure from its strident attacks of recent months, North Korea toned down its rhetoric Wednesday over the nuclear crisis and stressed its goal of reforming its struggling economy. North Korea also denied it was resorting to brinkmanship tactics and using the nuclear standoff as a means of seeking concessions in negotiations with Washington.



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