Ambassador Schieffer's Q&A on North Korea and Missiles

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lobby
Tokyo, Japan
June 17, 2006

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Minister Aso and I had a very good consultation. We exchanged views on this very grave matter. Both of us, I think, agree that this is a situation that calls for consultation between allies at the highest level. We take it very seriously that this is a grave and provocative action that the North Koreans are contemplating, and we hope that they will turn back from launching a missile. If they did that, I think it would be a very provocative act. And the United States and Japan agree on that.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the missile is ready to be launched?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: We don't know. There are indications that the North Koreans are preparing to launch a missile, and beyond that, I don't want to go into any specific details.

QUESTION: Sir, do you have any specific timeframe for the launch?


QUESTION: Do you know (in) which direction it will be launched, if it will be launched?


QUESTION: What would be the main message for North Korea from your meeting today?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think the main message here is that we hope that the North Koreans will not take this provocative action. We hope that they will return to the Six-Party Talks. Those talks can still be productive, but there is no good that can come from launching a North Korean missile. It will only isolate the North Koreans further from the rest of the international community.

QUESTION: Do you think that a launch is possible in the next few days?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I really wouldn't want to go into any timeframe or whatnot, but we do believe that they have taken some actions preparatory to firing a missile. And we think that if they were to launch, it would be a very provocative action, and that it would not contribute to peace and stability in the region.

QUESTION: So you're saying that if they were to launch it, that it could happen anytime?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, they've taken steps. We don't know exactly how close they are to that, but as I said, we view it as a very provocative action. And we hope that the North Koreans would back away from launching a missile, because it would do nothing but isolate them further from the international community.

QUESTION: Are there any specific steps that you'll be taking as a result of this talk?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: We're in close consultation with each other; we have been for the past several days, and we will continue to do so because we think it's very important for the international community to speak with one voice on that. And of course our ally Japan is very important to this whole process. The two governments, I think, share a common desire to urge the North Koreans to back away from taking this action.

QUESTION: Did you discuss about after the launch, what you are going to do?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: We talked about a number of things in this whole process, and that's all ongoing. We want to be sure that we are coordinating our policies, and I believe that we are.

QUESTION: Sir, there has been a report from South Korea that North Korea has launched an artificial satellite to cover up for its missile launch. Has there been?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I'm not aware of that.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the missile could be for peaceful purposes?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't think so. Heretofore the missile program has been a military-missile program, and we don't see anything that would lead us to conclude anything else.

QUESTION: The missile could cause a serious threat to the United States; it could reach Alaska ...

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think that when you talk about launching potential intercontinental ballistic missiles, that is a dangerous and provocative action. And it would be viewed as such by the United States.

QUESTION: Are you going to take any action toward North Korea when they launch?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think that in the event that they would launch, we would have all options on the table and would consider many different alternatives to dissuade them from doing that in the future. Thank you.