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USIS Washington 
File

31 August 1998

NORTH KOREA'S LATEST MISSILE TEST RAISES US CONCERN

(State Dept. "walk-through" briefing 8/31/98) (550)

By Jane A. Morse

USIA Diplomatic Correspondent



Washington -- North Korea's first test of a missile with a range of
more than 1,500 kilometers is raising serious concern in the United
States, according to a State Department spokesman.


Lee McClenny, Director of the State Department's Office of Press
Relations, told reporters at a press briefing August 31 that US
authorities have been able to confirm that North Korea did in fact
test its Taepo Dong 1 missile earlier that day.


The missile was launched from somewhere in the eastern area of the
Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) and flew over Japan's main
island of Honshu before impacting in the Pacific Ocean, McClenny said.


US authorities were aware for "some time" that North Korea was working
on the missile, McClenny said. "We weren't surprised by the test," he
said.


McClenny described the Taepo Dong 1 as utilizing upgraded Russian Scud
missile technology.


North Korea already has in its arsenal the No-Dong 1 missile, which
has a range of up to 1300 kilometers.


McClenny said that the development of the Taepo Dong 1 is "of deep
concern to the United States because of its potentially destabilizing
impact in Northeast Asia and beyond." He noted that not only are
countries located near the DPRK at risk but so are nations within
range of those countries that might eventually buy the Taepo Dong 1.


McClenny said that the United States has sought serious discussions
with North Korea about its missile program, but that the DPRK has
declined for over a year to hold such talks.


"We have been expressing our concern during our ongoing bilateral
talks with the DPRK in New York," McClenny said, emphasizing that "We
will continue to raise this subject."


North Korean and US officials were set to resume bilateral talks in
New York the afternoon of August 31. The latest round of discussions,
which were to focus on the Agreed Framework, began August 21 and
continued August 24 and 25 before a short recess.


McClenny said the Taepo Dong 1 missile test is not linked to the
Agreed Framework signed by the United States and the DPRK on October
21, 1994.


The Framework dismantled the DPRK's existing gas graphite nuclear
program, which produced weapons grade material.


The pact also requires the DPRK to engage in a dialogue with South
Korea, to remain in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to meet its
full-scope obligations under safeguards set by International Atomic
Energy Agency.


"We don't have any reason to conclude that the North Koreans are out
of compliance with the Agreed Framework," McClenny said.


"We think the Agreed Framework is a win-win arrangement," he said. "It
is in the interest of the North Koreans as well as the United States
and other allied countries to move forward with it. We've indicated
publicly and privately our intention to comply with our portions of
the Agreed Framework."


But he emphasized that North Korea's latest missile test underscores
why the United State places "a continuing high priority on missile
non-proliferation and on working closely with other like-minded
countries to curb the flow of missile equipment and technology
worldwide."