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North Korea threatens to resume missile tests

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From http://www.defensenews.com


N. Korea Slams U.S., Threatens To Hold Missile Tests



North Korea threatened to resume long-range missile testing and demanded the United States apologize for calling the country "an outpost of tyranny", official media reported late March 2.

The Korean-language version of a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying Pyongyang threatened to test-fire a long-range missile.

The statement said North Korea did not feel bound by a 1999 moratorium on missile testing, reached when Pyongyang was in non-proliferation talks with the administration of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton.

"There is now no binding force for us on the moratorium on missile testing," the Korean-language report said. "We are not legally bound by an international treaty, or anything else on the missile issue."

The North said its dialogue with the United States ended with the start of the Bush administration in 2001 and that meant it now had the right to resume missile testing.

Pyongyang slammed the Bush administration for first branding North Korea part of an "axis of evil" and more recently describing it as an outpost of tyranny.

It called on Washington to apologize, asking, “How can we sit at the negotiating table with the U.S. given that the U.S. has rejected the government of the DPRK (North Korea)?" KCNA reported.

On Feb. 10, North Korea officially announced for the first time that it had nuclear weapons and said it was pulling out of six-party talks aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions.

It cited Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s designation of North Korea as one of the "outposts of tyranny" during her Senate confirmation in January.

The North said that statement was evidence that Washington had not abandoned its "hostile" policy toward North Korea, first made manifest when President George W. Bush famously grouped North Korea, Iran and prewar Iraq in an "axis of evil."

The English-language version of the KCNA report, however, did not contain the missile-testing threat and held out the possibility of a return to six-party disarmament talks "if the U.S. takes a trustworthy and sincere attitude."

That was similar to language it used on Feb. 22 when North Korean leader Kim Jong-il hinted he might be willing to return to the talks.

North Korea sent shockwaves through Asia in 1998 when it fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. The Taepodong 1 missile is believed to have a range of up to 2,500 km (1,550 miles).

It has also tested and deployed the Rodong 1 missile with a range of about 1,000 km. The North is also thought to be developing missiles capable of reaching the western United States.

North Korea’s official media on Feb. 22 quoted leader Kim Jong-il as telling a high-powered envoy from the North’s main benefactor, China, his nation could return to the six-way talks if the conditions were right and Washington showed sincerity.

The top Chinese negotiator to the North Korean nuclear talks met his U.S. counterpart on Thursday in Seoul in a bid to restart the stalled negotiations.

Wu Dawei, who met South Korean officials on Wednesday, held discussions with U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill for talks that were closed to reporters. No details of the discussions were made available.

South and North Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia met for three inconclusive rounds of the talks. A fourth round planned for late last year never materialized.

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