- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2001

The State Department warned North Korea yesterday not to resume its long-range missile flight testing program following reports of an engine test.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher declined to comment directly on a report in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times that North Korea conducted a ground test of a Taepodong missile engine last week.
"But on North Korea's missile activity in general … we think those activities continue to pose a threat to regional security and stability and to U.S. friends, forces and interests," Mr. Boucher told reporters.
"We expect North Korea to abide by its moratorium on the launch of long-range missiles. We will continue to take steps to address North Korea's overall missile efforts and to work closely with other countries in doing so."
Mr. Boucher noted that a ground test is not a flight test.
"A flight test, of course, would be prohibited by the moratorium," he said. "It would be a very serious matter and contrary to the understandings between the two sides."
North Korea agreed in late 1999 to halt its long-range missile flight tests after having fired a Taepodong-1 over Japan in August 1998. The moratorium was extended in June 2000 while Pyongyang held talks with U.S. officials on its missile program.
U.S. intelligence officials told The Times that the engine test was detected late last week at a missile test facility near the town of Taepodong on North Korea's northeast coast.
Satellite photographs of the test site showed a pattern of burn marks from the rocket engine, which had been placed on its side.
The engine is used to power north Korea's long-range Taepodong-1 missile, or possibly a longer-range Taepodong-2, which U.S. officials believe can reach the United States with a nuclear, chemical or biological warhead.
One official said it was not clear why the test was carried out. It may have been to check the existing engine or for other unknown development efforts.
The test occurred less than a month after the Bush administration announced that it planned to continue talks with North Korea on its missile development and sales, its adherence to a 1994 nuclear arms agreement and its conventional military forces.
Mr. Boucher said U.S. and North Korean representatives met June 13 in New York "to arrange bilateral talks." But no schedule was set for the talks, which the new administration suspended while it reviewed past policy.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement issued on June 18 that new conditions for talks imposed by the Bush administration were "an attempt to disarm through negotiations."
Mr. Boucher said yesterday that the administration does not view the public statement as a formal response to the proposal for future talks.
"It doesn't respond to the request, and we think a private discussion deserves a private response," he said.

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