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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  The United States and North Korea have opened 
another round of talks about North Korea's missile 
program.  As VOA Southeast Asia correspondent Gary 
Thomas reports, the U-S side is expressing cautious 
optimism about the negotiations.
TEXT:  The U-S-North Korea talks opened in the 
Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, Monday on an upbeat 
U-S Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation 
Robert Einhorn, who is leading the U-S delegation, 
says the talks are taking place against what he calls 
a "positive, promising backdrop" of developments from 
the North Korean side.  He said the United States is 
looking forward to what he labeled "detailed 
constructive discussions" on regional and global 
security issues over the three days of talks.
There was no comment from North Korean delegation 
chief Jang Chang Chon.
North Korea has long been an international recluse.  
But its recent and gradual emergence from its 
diplomatic shell is seen by U-S officials as reason to 
hope for a positive outcome of this latest round of 
The Pyongyang government first set off alarm bells 
with its nuclear power program, which the U-S and 
like-minded governments thought could be a front for 
developing nuclear weapons.  North Korea eventually 
agreed to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for 
fuel and western nuclear power stations.
North Korea's missile development has raised new 
fears.  North Korean scientists have developed their 
own missile technology based on information gleaned 
from Scud missiles built by North Korea's one-time 
patron, the Soviet Union.
In 1998, a North Korean test missile was fired over 
the Japanese island of Honshu, rattling Japan and the 
West.  The United States identifies North Korea as the 
leading exporter of missile technology to states like 
Iran and Pakistan.
But in recent months, North Korea agreed to a 
moratorium on long-range missile tests in exchange for 
an easing of U-S sanctions.  It also opened talks with 
Japan, held a summit meeting with its nemesis, South 
Korea, and opened diplomatic relations with several 
Asian and European governments. /// OPT /// Later this 
month, North Korea will for the first time participate 
in the ASEAN Regional Forum, a meeting of Asian and 
Western governments on security issues. /// END OPT 
However, the United States remains deeply concerned 
over the North Korean missile program, which has led 
to the campaign by the United States to develop a 
missile shield system. 
/// REST OPT ///
The proposed system is opposed by China, Russia, and 
some NATO countries as potentially destabilizing to 
existing arms control agreements.  The United States 
has also said it has no intention of withdrawing its 
37-thousand troops stationed in South Korea.  (signed)
10-Jul-2000 05:39 AM EDT (10-Jul-2000 0939 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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