LITTLE PROGRESS was reported in the third round of U.S.North Korean missile talks, held in New York on October 1. As in the previous talks in April 1996 and June 1997, the Clinton administration tried to persuade North Korea to cease the development and export of ballistic missiles and technologies controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in exchange for a substantial loosening of U.S. economic sanctions.
Pyongyang, which has made clear its willingness to accept financial compensation for lost missile export revenues, has resisted the U.S. proposal, claiming that Washington is already obligated to loosen sanctions as part of the 1994 Agreed Framework. The text of that agreement, which froze Korea's nuclear weapons program, calls for the two sides to "move toward full normalization of political and econonic relations." But U.S. officials insist that Pyongyang has to meet U.S. concerns on the missile and other issues before progress can be made on the political and economic fronts.
Additionally, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin warned North Korea following the October 1 talks that any future testing or export of long-range missiles, such as the threestage Taepo Dong-l, which Pyongyang tested on August 31, would have "very negative consequences."
Japanese, South Korean Initiatives
North Korea's August 31 missile test has also bolstered initiatives in Japan and South Korea to augment their security with new weapons that are likely, in turn, to concern Russia and China. On September 20, the United States and Japan announced that the two nations would proceed with joint feasibility studies on theater missile defense. On October 23, Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga announced that the Japanese Defense Agency (JDA) will request roughly $8 million for Japan's 1999 fiscal year to fund joint research with the United States. The JDA reportedly plans to spend about $175 million to $250 million on the joint research program over the next five years. Tokyo has expressed interest in the U.S. Navy's Theater Wide Defense system, which would utilize Japan's fleet of Aegis-radar-equipped destroyers. …