North Korea Admits Overseas
Missile Sales for First Time
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 embargoes.
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.

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