U.S. Says North Korean Missile Test Would Violate Moratorium

Rice says resuming tests would be "provocative act," abrogation of obligations

By Anita N. Wadhwani
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The Bush administration said June 19 that North Korea's testing of a long-range ballistic missile would be a "provocative act," and urged Pyongyang to continue its moratorium on the testing it had agreed to in 1999 and reaffirmed in 2002.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters June 19 that a resumption of the missile testing would be regarded as "an abrogation of obligations," and "would once again show North Korea is determined to deepen its isolation, determined not to take a path that is a path of compromise and a path of peace, but rather instead to once again saber-rattle."

North Korea's launch of a missile gwould be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act," she said. Such actions, Rice said, would run counter to North Korea's September 19, 2005, commitment to the other members of the Six-Party Talks (South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, and the United States).

White House press secretary Tony Snow said June 19 that U.S. officials have been in direct talks with North Korean representatives at the United Nations in New York.

Officials from the State Department and the National Security Council, as well as President Bush himself "have contacted more than a dozen heads of state, including all of those in the Six-Party Talks," Snow said.

"This is something that the president has been working vigorously through diplomatic channels to encourage the North Koreans - to abide by their self-imposed moratorium on missile testing and also return to the talks," he added.

The White House maintains that it is up to the North Koreans on how they will proceed and the United States only will respond to actions when necessary. Snow stated that he hopes a response will not be needed and declined to comment as to whether the fueling of the ballistic missile was complete.

A transcript of Rice's remarks is available on the State Department Web site.