CHINA / National

China calls for calm in missile tension
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-21 06:56

China called for calm Tuesday as tensions rose over reports that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea plans a long-range missile test.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a Beijing press conference China had noticed the reports but had no further details.

Amid the rising tensions in the region, the United States staged massive war games in the western Pacific Ocean with 22,000 troops and three aircraft carriers that filled the sky with fighter planes.

And the DPRK warned yesterday that US moves to build a missile shield are fueling a dangerous arms race in space.

It also criticized Japan's plan to buy shipborne missiles and associated equipment from the United States to upgrade its missile defense system.

The DPRK said Japan's new missiles showed an intent to become "a military giant" and mount overseas aggression.

Jiang said China hopes all parties can act in a way conducive to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and help ease the tense situation.

She said China has always been devoted to maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula and is willing to work with all sides to strive for such a goal.

Recent Japanese and South Korea media reports said there was evidence the DPRK was preparing to test a Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said on Monday that the United States is consulting other members of the UN Security Council on how to respond to the test.

The US ambassador to South Korea, Alexander Vershbow, conveyed Washington's concerns over a possible missile launch to former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who plans to meet DPRK leader Kim Jong Il next week.

Meanwhile, there were conflicting reports about whether a launch of a missile believed to be capable of reaching the United States is imminent.

Bad weather over the purported launch site yesterday dimmed chances of an immediate launch.

Cloudy skies

Kim Seung-bae, of South Korea's Meteorological Administration, said skies were cloudy, with rain expected in the area between last night and this morning.

A US official in Washington said on Monday that US intelligence indicated the DPRK had finished fueling its long-range missile.

But Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jinen Nagase said yesterday Japan could not confirm fueling was complete.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted lawmakers who attended an intelligence briefing as saying South Korea's National Intelligence Service believes the DPRK hasn't completed fueling because 40 fuel tanks seen around a launch site weren't enough to fuel a projectile estimated at 65 tons.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said it appeared some rockets had been assembled but the DPRK's intentions were unclear.

If the DPRK is "really able to carry nuclear warheads by long-range missile, that would create serious security problems for the international community," Ban told reporters.

South Korea urged its neighbor to abandon a long-range missile launch.

The DPRK has abided by a self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile tests since 1999.

It claims it has nuclear weapons, but isn't thought to have one small and light enough to top a missile.

The DPRK has boycotted international nuclear talks since November.


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