- SEOUL (Reuters) - Visiting
Japanese Defense Minister Hosei Norota said Thursday Japan may break a
landmark nuclear agreement with North Korea if the Stalinist state repeats
a missile launch similar to that in August last year.
- ``We may have to halt financial aid to the Korea Peninsula
Energy Development Organization (KEDO) if North Korea launches another
missile,'' a South Korean Defense Ministry statement quoted Norota as
- KEDO was established under a 1994 agreement signed by
the United States and North Korea, which the West suspected was trying
to develop a nuclear weapon.
- The Stalinist government in Pyongyang agreed to halt
its nuclear program in return for two modern light-water nuclear reactors.
South Korea and Japan are also financial contributors to the U.S.-led
- Japan had repeatedly said it would halt all funding for
KEDO after North Korea's surprise launch at end-August of what Tokyo said
was a long-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan.
- Pyongyan has maintained that it launched a rocket used
to put a satellite into orbit.
- Norota arrived in Seoul Wednesday amid rising tensions
over suspicions that Pyongyang was building a secret underground nuclear
facility and also developing long-range missiles.
- The ministry statement said Norota met his South Korean
counterpart Cheon Yong-taek earlier Thursday to discuss current defense
issues in Korea, Japan and the surrounding region.
- The two ministers agreed North Korea's nuclear and missile
issues would have to be resolved before the region could find any stability,
- They agreed to address the problem through close discussions
with each other and the United States, it said.