Japan and South Korea are downplaying the seriousness of a reported missile launch on Sunday by North Korea. Tokyo and Seoul are portraying the reported &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2003/03/10/44191.html ' target=_blank>short-range missile test into the Sea of Japan Sunday as nothing alarming.
Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura spoke on a visit to Washington, and said the short-range missile posed no danger to Japan. In Seoul, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Spokesman Kim Sung-chul agreed Monday the launch was not a threat, publishes VOA News. According to Reuters, a top U.S. intelligence official said last week the North may be able to mount nuclear warheads on missiles, although other officials have played down that suggestion.
North Korea has had a missile program since the 1960s, when the Soviet Union supplied it with missiles.
It started building its own in the 1970s and sees a long-range missile as a critical deterrent to a U.S. attack.
Defense experts say that among developing countries, &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/19/38385.html ' target=_blank>North Korea is the closest to making an intercontinental ballistic missile. It has made and launched multi-stage missiles and has an arsenal of about 300 to 500 medium-range missiles, they estimate.
It began its first significant sales of missile technology in the mid-1980s and experts said Pyongyang has sold missiles and missile technology to Iran, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen -- earning hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to Russian officials, the detainees are employees of the private security company who were on their way to Latin America via Minsk and Istanbul. Lukashenko calls Russian officials liars