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South to North: Missile Test Worrying

Posted June. 16, 2006 03:08,   


Amid the North Korean move to launch the Taepodong-2 missile, the South Korean government is reported to have expressed its official stance to the North last month that it is “seriously concerned about what is going on.”

According to government sources on June 15, the government took such an action when it learned Pyongyang was seeking to launch Taepodong-2 (or its modified version), an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) with the range of 4,000-6,000km that can reach the mainland United States.

It has not been identified through exactly what channel the government discovered the fact: the inter-Korean talks between South and North Korean authorities, or liaison officers at Panmunjeom. An official from Cheong Wa Dae also said he “cannot officially confirm it.”

Given the context, however, it seems that the government’s message would have included concerns that if the North pushed for the missile launch, the position of hardliners in the U.S. would be strengthened, making it more difficult to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, and a call for refraining from “adventurism.”

The government will reportedly express its concerns to the North Korean delegation to the June 15 Grand National Reunification Festival being held in Gwangju, South Korea since June 14.

With regard to the possibility that North Korea fires the missile, a government official announced, “We are closely observing the situation and making necessary verification efforts. We are seriously concerned about the issue, and we will thoroughly examine our possible responses while taking necessary measures including consultation with neighboring countries.”

The government, however, made it clear that private sector-led economic cooperation projects, such as the Gaesong Industrial Complex and Mt. Geumgang tourism projects, should be continued and will be dealt with separately from the issue of the missile launch.