USIS Washington 

21 September 1998


(North Korea missile launch "a dangerous development") (3450)

New York -- Neither the United States nor Japan is under any illusions
about North Korea or the potential threat it poses to peace and
stability in the region, according to Secretary of State Madeleine

Albright made the remark when she and Secretary of Defense William
Cohen spoke at a joint press availability with Japanese Foreign
Minister Komura and Defense Minister Nukaga following a meeting of the
Security Consultative Committee (SCC) September 20 to discuss
U.S.-Japan security concerns and the recent activities of North Korea.

"We agree, and we have let the North Koreans know in no uncertain
terms, that the August 31 launch was a dangerous development,"
Albright said. "Japan, whose territory was overflown with no advance
warning, has particularly strong and legitimate concerns," she said.

"Our engagement with North Korea through the Agreed Framework,"
Albright said, "remains central to our ability to press for restraint
on missiles and for answers to our questions about suspicious
underground construction activities."

Secretary of Defense Cohen said the challenges posed by North Korea's
launch of the Taepo Dong I missile calls for an "urgent need to work
together to develop a ballistic missile defense system to counter
future threats."

Albright described the U.S.-Japan alliance as "the cornerstone of our
strategic policy in Asia."

"The security relationship between the United States and Japan has
never been stronger," the secretary said, "Japan and United States
need to respond as necessary through mutual cooperation."

Following is the official transcript of the joint press availability:

(begin text)


Office of the Spokesman

(New York, New York)

For Immediate Release                             September 20, l998










New York, New York

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. Secretary Cohen and I are very
pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Komura and State Minister for
Defense Nukaga to New York. Today's session of the U.S.-Japan Security
Consultative Committee, better known as the "two-plus-two," is one of
a series of high-level meetings we will have this week, including
President Clinton's summit with Prime Minister Obuchi on Tuesday.

During these meetings, we will discuss the full range of political and
economic challenges our nations face together. Today, our talks
concentrated on security and regional issues.

We reaffirmed the firm friendship and unshakeable alliance between our
two nations. That alliance is the cornerstone of our strategic policy
in Asia. It is essential to stability in the Asia-Pacific; and, I am
pleased to report, it is in excellent shape.

Ours is a dynamic and flexible partnership, as it must be given the
vital stake we have in Asian security. Today we discussed a number of
the regional concerns our two countries share -- foremost among them
the recent activities of North Korea.

Neither of our nations is under any illusions about the Government in
Pyongyang or the potential threat it poses to peace and stability in
the region. We agree, and we have let the North Koreans know in no
uncertain terms, that the August 31 launch was a dangerous
development. Japan, whose territory was overflown with no advance
warning, has particularly strong and legitimate concerns.

However, our engagement with North Korea through the Agreed Framework
remains central to our ability to press for restraint on missiles and
for answers to our questions about suspicious underground construction
activities and other matters. We must keep the heat on Pyongyang by
meeting our commitments to fund the Agreed Framework and KEDO, even as
we press North Korea's leaders to meet theirs.

We also reviewed the steps the United States and Japan have taken in
the past few years to keep our alliance robust and ready for the
challenges of the century ahead. And we will continue implementing the
forward-looking guidelines for U.S.-Japan defense cooperation, which
we adopted at last year's two-plus-two.

Secretary Cohen and I reaffirmed America's commitment to be good
neighbors to the Japanese communities that host our forces. In that
connection, we agreed on the importance of fully implementing the
final report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa as soon as

The United States and Japan will remain close partners on a host of
regional and global issues in the months and years ahead. Indeed, few
of the challenges we face in Asia and the world could be met if we did
not continue to work and act together.

Let me close by saying that it was a great pleasure to begin my week
at the UN by meeting the new security team of an old and close ally;
and let me turn the microphone over to Foreign Minister Komura.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOMURA: Thank you, Madame Secretary. It was a great
pleasure to hold a Security Consultative Committee meeting today, to
have frank consultations and exchange of views in our bilateral
security relationship, as well as on developments in the Asia-Pacific

As in the situation surrounding North Korea, there remain
uncertainties and instabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. We
reviewed such regional situations and discussed security policies
regarding this region.

Based on such discussions, the four of us reaffirmed that the
credibility of Japan-U.S. security arrangements remains firm. Our two
countries will spare no efforts to further enhance our bilateral
security arrangements on a basis of the Japan-U.S. joint declaration
on security.

The recent North Korean missile launch has a direct bearing on Japan's
security and raises serious concerns about the peace and stability in
Northeast Asia as well. We confirmed that we will call on North Korea,
through a variety of means, not to launch, develop, deploy or export

(Inaudible) for enhancing our bilateral security relationship, we
intend to continue close cooperation with the United States on
ballistic missile defense, or the so-called "BMD." We will also keep
working to ensure the effectiveness of the guidelines for Japan-U.S.
defense cooperation.

With regard to issues related to the stationing of U.S. forces in
Japan, including those issues involving Okinawa, I believe it is
important for the U.S. forces and their host communities to build good
neighborly relations. For this purpose, the two sides must exert
sincere and tenacious efforts on specific issues. Further cooperation
to this end by American colleagues will be most appreciated.

We'll also continue our efforts for steady implementation of the SACO
-- or the Special Action Committee on Okinawa -- for the final report.

Having had today's meeting with Secretary Albright and Secretary Cohen
within a short span of one month since our last meeting in Washington,
D.C., in August, I keenly feel the significance of maintaining
exchange of views and quality consultations between Cabinet ministers
of our two countries, and I shall keep up close communication and
cooperation with the distinguished Secretaries.

SECRETARY COHEN: As Secretary Albright has said, the security
relationship between the United States and Japan has never been
stronger. That relationship, along with the continued forward
deployment of roughly 100,000 of American troops in Asia is the
foundation for stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

At today's talks, we discussed the challenges posed by North Korea's
launch of a Taepo Dong I missile. We discussed the urgent need to work
together to develop a ballistic missile defense system to counter
future threats.

No one should doubt our commitment to defend our interests and to work
together for peace and stability in Asia, and this is the best way to
protect both the United States and Japan.

We reviewed progress to implement fully the defense guidelines, again,
as Secretary Albright has mentioned, and the commitments of both of
our governments to maintain good neighbor relations between our forces
in Japan and with the Japanese people.

I look forward to continuing our talks with Minister Nukaga in
Washington tomorrow and again in Tokyo in November.

Thank you.

MINISTER NUKAGA: In the area of security, Japan and the United States
are faced with numerous challenges that they need to address with
continued close coordination. It, therefore, is most gratifying that
we were able to have this meeting of the Security Consultative
Committee with Secretary of Defense Cohen and Secretary of State
Albright, Foreign Minister Komura, and to show within and without our
two countries will respond to these challenges hand-in-hand, building
on the solid foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance. The Japan-U.S.
security system or security arrangements will continue to play an
important role for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

As stated by Foreign Minister Komura, the agenda, and allow me
therefore to simply comment on the situation surrounding North Korea
and BMD.

Japan and the United States confirmed our common view that the recent
North Korean missile launch was a matter of great concern for the
security of Japan and the United States, as well as East Asia. We also
deem it significant that we were able to confirm that we shall
continue to watch with great concerns the behavior of North Korea as
symbolized by the missile launch; and that Japan and the United States
need to respond as necessary through mutual cooperation. This, I
believe, was most significant not just for Japan, but for Northeast
Asia and the region as a whole.

As transfers and proliferation of ballistic missiles, among others, as
conducted by North Korea, has posed great challenge to Japan's defense
policy, and in view of the significance of ballistic missile defense,
we should like to work towards the implementation -- in the direction
of research related to the system.

We shall address seriously these tasks, including BMD, and further
promote close security ties between Japan and the United States.

Thank you.

Q: This is a question to the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of
State. In today's two-plus-two it seems like the support of KEDO has
been -- (inaudible). Regarding the Japanese counter-measures to North
Korea, regarding the freezing of the funding for the construction of
the light water reactor, when will that be lifted? And also, regarding
the lifting of that freeze, are you contemplating any conditions like
some apology from North Korea?

And for the Secretary, it seems like under this certain situation, how
do you intend to cope with this situation with North Korea along with
Japan? And also regarding what Japan is thinking about the apology and
the explanation about the present launching, how do you intend to
convey the Japanese view to North Korea?

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOMURA: As you mentioned in your question, the
framework of KEDO itself is, I believe, the best method for preventing
a nuclear development by North Korea. On this score, Japan and the
United States see eye-to-eye.

At the same time, the U.S. side has shown understanding with Japan
concerning its position on its implementation. What is Japan's
position? Well, the North Korean missile launch, we believe, was done
-- or overflew Japan without any advance warning, advance
notification. Against that background, we cannot implement the KEDO
agreement as if there was no missile launch. That will only give a
misleading signal to the North Koreans. That is Japan's position.

Now, you referred to apologies by North Korea, et cetera. We did not
necessarily make it an absolute condition. But under what conditions
would the KEDO agreement be implemented? That is a point that Japan,
together with the United States and Korea, will need to engage in
close consultations.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, let me say that we - all of us -- agreed on
the seriousness of the Korean missile launch, and have made quite
clear to them -- to the North Koreans -- in a number of ways that this
poses a difficult and dangerous situation, and are going to be
involved in talks about how to deal with it.

I think that we also all agreed about the importance of pursuing the
Agreed Framework. All I have to do is to remind everybody about what
things looked like in 1993, when we were concerned about the fact that
the North Koreans were going to renounce their membership in the NPT.
We believe we achieved a very good agreement with them on the Agreed
Framework to get them to freeze the nuclear materials.

It is essential that we live up to our side of the contract and that
they live up to their side. But let me just say again that none of us
disagreed on the problems caused by this missile.

Q: Prime Minister Obuchi, in an interview with Western reporters that
was published today, made some comments about the Japanese economy and
the fact that he thought that Japan had, in fact, done all it could do
in order to revive its economy and get it out of the crisis it's been
in. Are you satisfied with those words, particularly as you look
forward to a meeting between the President and the Prime Minister? Has
Japan gone far enough?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we believe, in the recent
legislation, that Japan has taken an important step. Obviously, what
will be important is how it is implemented. There are other aspects of
an economic program that we would like to have take place. President
Clinton and Prime Minister Obuchi will be discussing that during their

We have had a chance in other meetings -- Foreign Minister Komura and
I -- in our various phone conversations to discuss this issue. So I
think they have taken an important step; implementation is important,
and obviously it is not the whole story.

Q: A question to Minister Nukaga and Secretary Cohen. This concerns
BMD. It is that you have agreed to continue towards the direction of
cooperative research. Regarding the cooperative research, what would
be the specific undertaking there? And until you go into actual
development stage, how long will that take?

The next question is mainly to Secretary Cohen. The experiment on the
part of the United States is not quite successful, and I'd like to
hear how you feel about this situation. And also, from the development
stage to the deployment, it requires quite a large expense. In
relation to how to cope with this expenditure, I'd like to know how
you intend to cope with the funding.

Thank you.

MINISTER NUKAGA: Allow me to respond first. Between Japan and the
United States, for the past several years we've been engaged in
overall joint studies regarding ballistic missile defense. Today in
our two-plus-two meeting, we reviewed the progress of those joint
studies conducted so far. As a result, we decided to engage in work in
the direction of cooperative research.

This is not a position or a decision to engage in cooperative
research. But in view of the significance of BMD, we shall indicate
this direction of implementing cooperative research and engage in the
necessary work for internal coordination within the Japanese
Government to that effect.

Now, in the process of cooperative research, we shall need to look at
the technical feasibility, et cetera. Therefore, at this stage we are
not in a position to answer how long the development work itself will

SECRETARY COHEN: I agree with the statement that was just made by the
Minister. We are not in a position to give any definitive time line in
terms of when research and development can be completed and then the
procurement of a system and the deployment of it.

We have a number of theater missile defense systems under intensive
research and development -- as many as five or more. We will continue
to intensify that research and development; and this agreement between
the United States and Japan to share in that research and development
will hopefully expedite the programs.

It's important to remember why Secretary Albright continues to stress
the need to meet with the North Korean delegations to insist that they
comply with their agreements, and why it's important for all of us to
try to use our good offices to persuade other countries not to
continue to proliferate either missile technology or weapons of mass

The North Koreans have been able to take advantage of other countries
transferring certain technology that will allow them to develop their
newer missiles. So we think it's important that all countries
understand that with greater and greater missile proliferation, it
will put more and more countries at risk.

That's why we're going to intensify our own diplomatic initiatives to
control the spread of missile technology, but also to develop the
theater missile defense systems and the ballistic missile defense
systems that will be critical for all of our countries.

Q: Foreign Minister Komura, it sounds as if you're saying that while
Japan supports the agreed framework and KEDO, you are not going to
fund the $1 billion that you had agreed to fund. First of all, is this
correct? And would you consider -- do you think there's a point in the
future when the Japanese Government might reconsider, might change its
mind and put forward the funding it had agreed to do?

For Secretary Albright, if, in fact, the Japanese Government does not
put up the $1 billion, how will the agreed framework work? Will the
United States then put in the $1 billion that the Japanese Government
had, or how will you make this work?

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOMURA: I think that question is more or less in line
with the first question I answered. Since we do support the agreed
framework, it is not that we will not into the future refuse to put up
funds; but the reality is that North Korea did launch the missile and
that launch was done without any advance notification or warning and
the missile overflew the Japanese islands -- a matter which has a
serious bearing on Japan's security and also a threat to the peace and
stability of Northeast Asia. Also, it causes a problem in terms of
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Against that background, we cannot go ahead with the contribution of
$1 billion as if this missile launch had not taken place at all. That
will only send a wrong message to the North Koreans -- the wrong
message that they will, with impunity, do almost anything at any time.

The Japanese Government position is that we should not allow the North
Koreans to take the message that way. That is why this time we are
saying that if we are to make contributions, then through close
consultations between Japan and South Korea we will consider under
which specific conditions Japan will provide such funding.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The question you asked me is mooted in some way by
the answer Foreign Minister Komura just gave you. But let me make
quite clear the following point, as I also responded to in the first

We also take the North Korean missile launch very seriously and
consider it a dangerous way of moving forward and have made that very
clear to the North Koreans, and will continue to do so.

We believe that it is not a solution to the missile issue not to live
up to the KEDO -- to all our contribution to that and to the agreed
framework; because the agreed framework is an essential part of how we
deal with the various threats and problems posed by North Korea. We
will continue to cooperate and discuss the issue.

We are going to be having a trilateral meeting with the South Koreans,
Japanese and ourselves -- I've lost track -- Tuesday or one day soon
this week -- so that we can discuss this issue and how it all relates
to us and to our relationship on this and how to make absolutely sure
that the three of us are cooperating to deal with what we consider a
serious problem.

As both Secretary Cohen and I have now said several times, we think
that it is a contract and both sides need to live up to their parts of
it; and only, again, to recall 1993, where we had great concerns. I
was here at the UN; we were talking about sanctions resolutions and
various very difficult problems. I think we have an opportunity here
to make sure that the agreed framework that serves a very important
purpose continues to be maintained.

Thank you.

(end transcript)