North Korea to test missile that could reach U.S. mainland

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon says that North Korea is prepared to test an intercontinental ballistic missile with an estimated range of 3,500 miles.

The missile, Taepodong 2, could with such a range reach the United States mainland. On Tuesday, Lee Tae-sik, South Korea's ambassador to the United States, confirmed the reports saying, "preparations did appear to be under way."

"If North Korea fires a missile now while the six-party talks remain off and questions are being raised in the international community about the effectiveness of the talks, there is a possibility it will have a seriously negative impact on the resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem," said Ki-moon.

Ki-moon also says that N. Korea should set aside its plans to launch the test missile and return to talks with South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia, and China, on its nuclear program.

However; Tae-sik states that "the signs that [N. Korea] is moving in that direction, yet we cannot rule out the possibility that at the last moment it will change its mind." He also said that the preparations could be "quite worrisome", but also said that the U.S. and other nations should not "make a conclusion" that N. Korea will test the missile.

CNN quoted an anonymous U.S. intelligence official as saying, "[N. Korea] is doing everything you would expect if you are going to launch a missile. There is reason to think they are doing it for show."

According to Alexander Vershbow, the US ambassador to Seoul, the U.S. will respond to the test of the missile with "appropriate measures."

N. Korea last tested a short-range missile in 1998 which shot over Japan's mainland and landed into the Pacific Ocean. This will be N. Korea's first long-range test since the nation imposed a "moratorium" in 1999. According to Tae-sik, N. Korea may be abandoning the moratorium in a move to pressure the U.S. into making diplomatic concessions.

N. Korea is currently refusing to hold talks with the 5 nations because of financial sanctions placed on the nation.

Sources

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