Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

US warns N Korea on missile tests


The US has called North Korea's latest missile tests "not constructive" and urged Pyongyang to instead focus on nuclear disarmament.

The call came in response to a North Korean test-firing of several short range missiles off its west coast.

North Korea also warned that US demands over its nuclear programme could delay plans to disable atomic facilities agreed in a landmark deal last year.

The US suspects Pyongyang of hiding nuclear weapons development.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said North Korea should "focus on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" and "deliver a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear weapons programmes and nuclear proliferation activities".

It should also "complete the agreed disablement," he said.

Political point

A South Korean government official told Yonhap news agency that North Korea launched three or four missiles at 1030 (0130 GMT) on Friday.

The official said that the missiles were fired into the Yellow Sea.

Yonhap said the missiles were Russian-designed Styx ship-to-ship missiles with a range of 46km (29 miles).

Kaesong industrial park (11 December 2007)
The Kaesong industrial park employs 23,000 North Koreans
A South Korean presidential spokesman downplayed the missile tests as "ordinary military training".

Analysts say such launches are often timed to make a political point.

North Korea's actions came a day after it expelled South Korean managers from the Kaesong joint industrial park on the border.

The expulsions are being seen as a diplomatic protest against the Seoul government, which said it would link progress at the park with progress on the North's denuclearisation effort, says the BBC's Kevin Kim in the South Korean capital.

'Unjust demands'

At the same time as the missile tests, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman warned the US not to pursue its suspicions that Pyongyang has hidden some of its nuclear programme.

North Korea blames deadlocked nuclear talks on the US, accusing it of raising "unjust demands".

Under a landmark disarmament-for-aid deal reached last year, North Korea has shut down its main atomic facility at Yongbyon and taken steps to disable it.

But the US wants North Korea to fully declare its nuclear weapons stockpile and answer US suspicions of nuclear proliferation and possession of a secret uranium enrichment programme.

North Korea successfully tested a nuclear device in 2006 and analysts believe it may have any a number of atomic bombs ranging from one to eight or more.

However, it is not believed that the country has yet succeeded in building a nuclear weapon that could be fitted on to a missile.

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