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."