BEIJING — Pyongyang may lift its moratorium on missile tests if normalization talks with Japan drag on without any progress, the North Korean Foreign Ministry warned Tuesday.

“Upon learning about the outcome of the talks, the relevant organs and the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are becoming increasingly assertive that it is necessary to reconsider various points related to security, including the nuclear and missile issues, under the untransparent conditions where Japan’s words and deeds . . . do not go with each other,” the Korean Central News Agency quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.

“Especially, the DPRK’s relevant field is of the view that the DPRK should reconsider the moratorium on missile test-firing in case the talks on normalizing relations between the DPRK and Japan get prolonged without making any progress, as was the case with the recent talks,” the spokesman said.

Tokyo and Pyongyang held the latest round of normalization talks on Oct. 29 and 30 in Kuala Lumpur — the first in two years — but the two sides failed to narrow their gap over key issues, including those pertaining to the Japanese abductees and their families remaining in North Korea, and Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

In the Sept. 17 summit in Pyongyang between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the North promised to continue its moratorium on missile test launches and comply with past international agreements on the nuclear issue.

But North Korea later admitted that it has a nuclear weapons program.

In the KCNA report, the spokesman accused Japan of “breaking its promise” to return to Pyongyang the five Japanese abductees who made their first homecoming to Japan in 24 years in mid-October.

While Japan and North Korea originally agreed that the five would visit Japan for up to two weeks, Tokyo later decided not to send them back to Pyongyang, and instead is seeking to get their family members out of North Korea so they can reunite.

“If one side stops honoring its obligations, it will become difficult for the other to continue honoring its own obligations,” the spokesman said.

The official said Japan “attempted to shelve the issue of liquidating the past,” an allusion to North Korea’s demand for compensation for Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule, “and clung to its call for discussion on the nuclear and abduction issues, thereby damaging mutual trust.”

Koizumi upbeat on deal

PHNOM PENH (Kyodo) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday he does not believe North Korea will act contrary to the spirit of a bilateral declaration issued in September, despite a news report indicating Pyongyang may review its suspension of missile tests if normalization talks with Tokyo collapse.

“I do not believe North Korea will do anything to trample on the spirit of the Pyongyang declaration,” Koizumi said at a press conference in Phnom Penh.

Koizumi brushed aside the speculation on the matter, saying, “There are reports on the issue of missiles, but our premise is that North Korea will sincerely implement agreements in the Pyongyang declaration.”

He also emphasized that Japan, South Korea, China and the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations sent a clear message urging North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons development program.

“We issued a clear message to urge North Korea to give up its development of nuclear weapons,” Koizumi said.

Koizumi is in Cambodia to attend a series of summit meetings involving ASEAN and is scheduled to return to Japan on Wednesday.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.