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South Korea admits to missile test

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has admitted to having test-fired a missile with a 62-mile range that landed in the Yellow Sea between South Korea and China on Thursday.

In a brief statement, the South Korean Defense Ministry said its Agency for Defense Development launched the missile from a launch station on its western coast Thursday as part of its "regular tests for missile development".

After flying its full 62-mile range, the missile hit a target 31 miles off Pyonsan, a town on South Korea's western coast about 125 miles south of Seoul, air force Col. Kim Ki-ok told a news briefing.

Kim said Seoul was publicly acknowledging the test to prevent "misunderstandings" in neighboring countries.

The ministry said South Korea has notified the United States of its missile test, as it was required to under a bilateral treaty on missile tests. It also explained the test to Japan, officials said.

Japan had earlier raised an inquiry regarding an object that landed on the East China Sea.

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Stephen Oertwig, a spokesman for the U.S. forces in Korea, said the American military was not involved.

Japan's Kyodo News agency quoted officials at the Japanese Defense Agency as saying that they had been told by U.S. forces in Japan that the missile launch did not pose a danger.

South Korea had expressed its intention to develop missiles with a longer range.

After months of negotiations, Seoul obtained U.S. approval in January to develop missiles with a range of up to 187 miles.

Missiles with a 187-mile range are capable of striking Pyongyang and other key North Korean cities.

Under a 1979 accord with the United States, South Korea had been barred from developing missile with a range longer than 112 miles.

Washington agreed to revise that accord on condition that South Korea join the Missile Technology Control Regime.

The United States, Russia, Japan and 30 other countries have signed the 14-year-old agreement. Holdouts include Middle Eastern countries, India, Pakistan, China and North Korea.

North Korea is believed to be armed with missiles capable of hitting all of South Korea and most of Japan.

It alarmed the region by firing a long-range missile in 1998 which flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific.

The North has reportedly completed development of a more powerful missile that experts say could reach Hawaii and Alaska.


• N. Korea shuns U.S. calls for talks
October 26, 2001
• Bush presses N Korea for talks
October 19, 2001
• Kouizumi prepares for China test
October 7, 2001

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