02/03/2009, 00.00
KOREA
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Pyongyang ready to test-fire a new missile with nuclear warhead

It is a long-distance ballistic missile capable of carrying a 500-kg nuclear payload and reaching the US West Coast. It was tested in July 2006 to dismal results. In South Korea poll indicates two-thirds of South Koreans back President Lee’s aid-for-denuclearisation policy vis-à-vis Pyongyang.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korea is preparing to test-fire its longest-range missile with a capability of delivering a nuclear warhead, official South Korean sources reported today. US and South Korean intelligence officials have recently spotted a North Korean train carrying what is believed to be a Taepodong-2 missile, which is capable of delivering a payload of up to 500 kilograms as far as Alaska and the US West Coast.

A launch is expected in a month or two. But Japanese intelligence sources suggest that a launch could be “imminent.”

North Korea test-fired a Taepodong-2 missile on 5 July 2006 but its launch failed. The rocket exploded after 40 seconds of flight.

The report increases tensions on the Korean peninsula. In recent days Pyongyang announced its intention of cancelling all inter-Korean political and military agreements, blaming Seoul for pursuing an allegedly ‘hostile” policy of “confrontation”, which it warned “may lead to an uncontrollable” outcome.

For its part South Korea is still interested in a diplomatic solution to the crisis but will not be bullied on the nuclear question and will continue to make economic aid and assistance dependent on progress in North Korea’s denuclearisation.

More than two-thirds of South Koreans said they support their South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s policy linking economic aid to Pyongyang's denuclearization

The poll, by the Korea Economic Research Institute, found that 68.4 per cent of 800 respondents said they were supportive of the aid-for-denuclearisation policy by the South Korean government against 27.2 per cent who said they didn't support the government’s hard-line stance, according to Yonhap News.

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