Japan Sternly Warns North
Korea Over Missiles

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 saying.
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 KEDO consortium.
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, it said.
They agreed to address the problem through close discussions with each other and the United States, it said.