N.Korea Confirms Moratorium on Missile Tests: Kremlin

August 5, 2001 - 0:0
MOSCOW -- North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il confirmed Saturday that Pyongyang will observe a self-declared moratorium on missile testing until 2003, a top Kremlin official told Interfax

"The North Korean leader confirmed that his country intends to observe the moratorium on missile testing until 2003," said Sergei Prikhodko, deputy head of the presidential administration.

Kim's reported comment came during his talks Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. intelligence sources claimed North Korea last month test-fired an engine used in its long-range Taepodong missile program.

In the meantime a joint Russian-North Korean declaration said North Korea's missile program, denounced by Washington as a danger to its security, is peaceful and is not a threat for countries that respect Pyongyang's sovereignty.

The statement, signed by Putin and Kim Jong-Il, also voiced support for the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by Moscow and Washington that the United States now wants to revise or scrap so that it can build a missile defense shield.

"The Korean side assured that North Korea's missile program has a peaceful nature and correspondingly, does not pose a threat to any country that respects North Korea's sovereignty," the two leaders said.

Russia "welcomed this position of North Korea," the statement continued.

Turning to the landmark ABM Treaty, Putin and Kim said it was a "cornerstone of strategic stability and the basis for further reductions of strategic offensive weapons."

Washington is trying to persuade Moscow to scrap the ABM Treaty, which it has dismissed as a relic of the Cold War, arguing that the threat from "rogue states" such as North Korea justify its 60-billion-dollar missile defense project.