- SEOUL (AP) -- North Korea admitted for the first time Tuesday that
it has sold missiles abroad and plans to keep doing so, openly challenging
international efforts to curb global missile proliferation.
- U.S. officials have said for years they
have evidence that North Korea was selling Scud missiles to Iran and Syria.
But the Clinton administration's efforts to persuade North Korea to curb
or stop such sales have made no progress.
- "We will continue developing, testing
and deploying missiles," said a statement carried by the North's official
Korean Central News Agency. "Our missile export is aimed at obtaining
foreign money we need at present."
- The Clinton administration Tuesday said
North Korea's sales were "irresponsible," and called on the country
to reduce them if it wishes to improve ties with the United States.
- "It has sold missiles and missile
equipment and technology virtually indiscriminately, including to missile
programs in unstable regions such as the Middle East and South Asia,"
the State Department said in a statement.
- North Korea defended its missile development
and export program by accusing Washington of maintaining stifling economic
- Gripped by severe food shortages and
international isolation, North Korea sees a way out in striking major diplomatic
deals with the U.S.
- It agreed in 1994 to freeze its suspected
nuclear weapons program in return for fuel, replacement nuclear power plants
and other economic and diplomatic benefits.
- It now wants to sign a peace treaty with
the U.S., excluding rival South Korea. But Washington, which is technically
still at war with North Korea after leading UN forces on the South's side
during the 1950-53 Korean War, insists that a treaty must be signed between
the two Koreas. The war ended with an armistice but no formal peace.
- North Korea said it could discuss missile
non-proliferation with the U.S. if Washington signs the peace treaty and
compensates it for an expected loss of income from missile sales.