- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2000

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia North Korea yesterday refused to stop developing missiles for self-defense, claiming Washington has deployed "thousands of missiles" that threaten the communist state.
"That is why the United States has no right to make such unjust claims for the freeze of our missile capabilities," said Jang Chang Chon, head of North Korea's bureau on U.S. affairs.
The communist nation also demanded compensation of up to $1 billion a year to permanently suspend missile technology exports.
Mr. Jang said Pyongyang regards its missile program as part of its right to self-defense. However, North Korea remains willing to discuss the possibility of curbing exports of missile technology if paid enough.
"We clarified that we will continue our discussions on the condition that the U.S. gives compensation for our economic and political losses in case of suspension."
Negotiations over North Korea's missile program ended in a stalemate yesterday, with the United States refusing to pay Pyongyang to curb exports of missile technology.
After three days of talks, the North Koreans restated their offer: $1 billion a year in exchange for a halt to missile technology exports. They also refused to stop developing such weapons for self-defense.
The talks were the first in 16 months, and chief U.S. negotiator Robert Einhorn, assistant secretary of state for proliferation, said no breakthrough had been expected. They agreed to meet again at an undetermined time and location.
"The North Koreans should not be compensated for conducting activities they should not be conducting in the first place," Mr. Einhorn said. "We are not prepared to pay cash compensation."
Mr. Einhorn indicated that the long-reclusive, impoverished country stood to gain far more politically and economically from a better security environment and normalized relations with Washington.
The United States claims North Korea is the world's top exporter of missile equipment and technology to customers including Pakistan and Iran and wants development and exports of missiles stopped.
Though Pyongyang has said it will not negotiate its right to develop defensive missiles, there are hopes it may be more flexible on exports, though they are a vital source of hard currency.
After rattling Asia in mid-1998 by test firing a missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean, North Korea recently agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile tests in exchange for an easing of U.S. sanctions.
It has opened official talks with Japan, moved to establish diplomatic relations with many countries in Asia and Europe, and joined a security forum of Southeast Asian nations.
The talks come amid increasing North Korean willingness to discuss defense issues, marked by the historic June summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
This week's negotiations took on fresh importance in U.S. eyes after last weekend's failed test for the proposed U.S. missile defense shield. Proponents of such tests say the United States needs to develop a way to defend itself from states including North Korea and Iraq.
In an unrelated development yesterday, the Philippines and North Korea signed an agreement establishing diplomatic relations, opening the way for the communist nation to participate in a regional security meeting later this month.
The two sides hailed the agreement as a significant milestone that took almost 25 years to achieve.
The Philippines had been the only Southeast Asian country without formal ties with North Korea.

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