North Korean Missile Launch Would Be "Unacceptable," Bush Says

By Stephen Kaufman and Anita Wadhwani
Washington File Staff Writers

Washington - The United States and Japan will maintain a united position toward North Korea and will cooperate on missile defense, as well as continuing to dissuade Pyongyang from launching a long-range ballistic missile, President Bush told reporters at the White House June 29.

The president made his comments with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who is making his final visit to the United States as the head of Japan’s government.

"We both agreed that it's very important for us to remain united in sending a clear message to the North Korean leader that, first of all, launching the missile is unacceptable.  There's been no briefings as to what's on top of the missile.  They haven't told anybody where the missile's going," Bush said.

He also said Japan, the United States and other countries "cannot afford to be held hostage to rockets," and the situation has provided an opportunity for the two countries to "share and cooperate on missile defenses."

Prime Minister Koizumi said if the missile were launched, "we would apply various pressures."

He said Japan and the United States "need to maintain close coordination and encourage North Korea to become a responsible member of the international community." (See The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.)

The president and prime minister also discussed the issue of North Korean abductions of foreigners, which Bush said "reminded me about the nature of the regime."  He also said both leaders share a "deep concern about the human condition in North Korea."

Bush said he and Koizumi also discussed energy and how to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons, as well as ways to speed up fast breeder nuclear reactors and develop new types of uranium reprocessing. (See Energy Policy.)


The president praised Japan’s commitment of defense forces to Iraq, which he said was a "hard decision" for the prime minister.

He said Japan "is making a mighty contribution to new democracy," and he praised Japan’s contributions to end suffering caused by disease and hunger around the world, saying the prime minister understands that "with … economic might comes serious responsibilities in the world."

Koizumi said the forces, having accomplished their mission, would be withdrawn, but "through cooperation with various countries concerned and through cooperation with the United Nations, Japan will continue to provide support and help the Iraqis get back on their feet."  (See Iraq Update.)

At an earlier welcoming ceremony for the prime minister, the president also praised Japan’s efforts on global security, highlighting its involvement in the Proliferation Security Initiative as well as its participation in the Six-Party Talks to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

"The people of Japan can be proud of the contribution their self-defense forces have made in the war on terror, and Americans are proud to serve alongside such courageous allies," Bush said.

He added that the United States and Japan would be working together for a promising end to the World Trade Organization's Doha round of trade talks, which would "help lift millions in the developing world out of poverty."  (See USA and the WTO.)

Transcripts of the Bush-Koizumi press conference and arrival ceremony remarks are available on the White House Web site.