Russian ministry summons N.Korea envoy over missile reports

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North Korea's ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry over reports that the country was allegedly preparing to test a long-range ballistic missile, the ministry said Thursday.
MOSCOW, June 22 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea's ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry over reports that the country was allegedly preparing to test a long-range ballistic missile, the ministry said Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry set out its position on the matter before Pak Ui Chun:

"We stressed the undesirability of any activities that could affect regional stability and hamper the search for ways to resolve the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula," the ministry said.

Reports on North Korea's alleged preparations for testing a ballistic missile that could reach Alaska first appeared in the United States and Japan. They were based on satellite images featuring a missile launcher and a cistern apparently with fuel. The two governments suspect North Korea of plans to test a missile.

North Korea has refused to comment on the matter.

In August 1998, North Korea launched its first three-stage missile, which it said had put a satellite in orbit. The carrier rocket flew over Japan and fell into the Pacific. The U.S. and Japan accused North Korea of testing ballistic missiles at the time.

In September 1999, North Korea declared a moratorium on missile tests to be in effect throughout talks with the U.S. administration, but in 2003 the country withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and lifted the test moratorium in 2005 when the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear talks. The same year, North Korea announced it had nuclear weapons.

Russia, North and South Korea, the U.S., China, and Japan joined efforts in August 2003 in a bid to persuade North Korea to give up plans to develop nuclear weapons in return for economic and diplomatic incentives.

At the last round of six-nation talks in September 2005, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees, but later refused to rejoin the talks until Washington lifted financial sanctions imposed over its alleged involvement in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

In early June, however, a Korean news agency reported that Pyongyang was inviting an American delegation to resume talks.

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