- 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
- 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
- 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.