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North Korean Official Says “Missile Test Information is Just Speculation”

North Korean Official Says “Missile Test Information is Just Speculation”

Posted September. 25, 2004 21:33,   


When questioned about North Korea’s reported preparations for a missile launch test, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Su-hon said on Friday that the report was just “conjecture, rumor and speculation.”

Kyodo News reported on Saturday that Mr. Choi uttered the remarks when he talked with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi at a tea party hosted by the Japanese government for non-Aligned U.N. Member States’ representatives on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York.

When Ms. Kawaguchi argued, “North Korea’s attempt to test-fire missiles is a violation of the North Korea-Japan Pyongyang Declaration of 2002,” Mr. Choi reassured compliance with the declaration and promised to send the message to North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il.

Prior to this report, Kyodo News reported, quoting sources from the Japanese government on Friday, that information from U.S. reconnaissance had indicated that a number of military vehicles carrying medium-range Rodong missiles and soldiers had been on the move in Sinori, North Pyongan Province, in the north western part of North Korea. However, the source said, “The Japanese government believes these moves are unlikely to lead to a missile launch.``

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Washington believes that North Korea’s moves were related to an engine combustion test on its new missiles, which had been derived from the Soviet SS-N-6, a 1960s-era submarine-launched model.

It analyzed that “some reports estimate its range at more than 3,500 kilometers -- enough to reach Guam, a U.S. territory with a large military presence.”

Hun-Joo Cho Seung-Ryun Kim hanscho@donga.com srkim@donga.com