Japan Says N. Korea Is
Building New Missile & Nuclear Sites
TOKYO (AP) - Japan believes North Korea has three suspected nuclear weapons development facilities and has begun construction of new missile launch sites, local media reported Saturday.
A Defense Agency report described one of two new missile sites as being near the northern border with China and the other as near the southern border with South Korea, Kyodo News agency said.
The reclusive communist state already has one launch facility on the Japan Sea coast.
The agency made the conclusions in a report submitted to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Kyodo said.
The report could heighten tensions between North Korea and Tokyo and Washington, which already have expressed growing concern about North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons development programs.
In August, North Korea test fired a missile over Japan. The United States says the North has also started construction of a suspected underground nuclear-related facility.
North Korea's hard-line communist leadership has rebuffed a U.S. demand that it allow unconditional inspection of the underground facility at Keumjang-ri, 25 miles northeast of the country's main nuclear complex of Yongbyon.
The three nuclear-related sites cited by the agency include a nuclear reprocessing facility in Kumchangri, a trigger device testing compound in Kwisong and an underground facility in Taechon, the report said.
It was unclear whether the underground sites at Kwisong and Keumjang-ri were separate facilities or different names for the same facility.
On Thursday, a Russian news report cited Russia Defense Ministry officials as saying that North Korea is planning another ballistic missile test.
The agency reported no signs that North Korea has begun preparations for a new missile launch, it said.
North Korea has said its Aug. 31 firing was a rocket launch that put a satellite payload into orbit. Japan has dismissed that claim, saying it was a three stage ballistic missile. U.S. officials say they have found no evidence of an orbiting North Korean satellite.
Traces Of Poison Found In Dead Crewman's Body By Sang-Hun Choe Associated Press 12-19-98
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Military investigators found traces of poison in a body recovered from a suspected North Korean spy boat sunk by South Korea's navy, officials said Saturday.
The finding indicated that some of the boat's crewmen may have killed themselves before their vessel was sunk Friday, Defense Ministry officials said.
The low-slung speedboat, carrying an estimated four people, was spotted as it approached Yosu, a small port on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. It was pursued until it was hemmed in and sunk in a gunbattle.
The body of a crewman armed with a hand grenade and knife was found shortly after the vessel sank.
"We found evidence that the man bit an ampul of poison. We also found injuries from gun shrapnel,'' said Lt. Col. Lee Woon-se, a ministry spokesman. Lee added that North Korean agents were trained to commit suicide before being caught by South Korean troops.
Navy ships and planes continued a sea and air search for more bodies and wreckage of the boat, which went down in waters 110 yards deep.
In a separate operation, Japan's Self-Defense Forces assisted South Korean warships and planes searching international waters for a larger ship believed to have launched the speedboat, Lee said. He refused to give further details.
South Korean officials believe the boat was on a mission to land or pick up North Korean spies in the South.
"We are shocked and enraged by the North's continued provocative infiltrations,'' Seoul's Defense Ministry said in a statement. "We demand the North offer a responsible and convincing explanation.'' The Koreas were divided into the communist North and the pro-Western South in 1945. They are still technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The U.N. Command, which oversees the armistice, will demand a meeting with North Korean officials at the truce village of Panmunjom to protest the incident, the Defense Ministry said.
North Korea's government accused Seoul of fabricating the incident to raise tension and carry out a U.S. plan to trigger a second war on the divided Korean peninsula.
The latest incident came despite South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's "sunshine policy,'' under which Seoul is pushing economic exchanges to bring the two Koreas closer to peace on the divided peninsula.
President Kim's office said the gunbattle will not derail its policy towards the North.