N Korea nuke, missile programmes "serious threat", says S Korea
South Korea yesterday described North Korea's nuclear and missile development as a serious threat to the world, as a media report said the communist state is operating a secret atomic programme.
"North Korea's missile is not a mere conventional weapon," said Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan, two days after Pyongyang signalled it would go ahead with a missile launch as part of a "space development" programme.
"The combination of its long-range missile and nuclear capability will have a very serious impact on the world's peace and security," Yonhap news agency quoted him as telling reporters.
The communist state tested an atomic weapon in 2006 but experts are unsure whether it yet has the technology to fit a nuclear warhead to its missiles.
Yu will meet US Secretary of State Hillary Hillary Friday for talks on ways to revive stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament negotiations and other issues.
Hillary said Tuesday in Japan any missile launch "would be very unhelpful in moving our relationship forward".
South Korea says the North is preparing to test its longest-range missile, the Taepodong-2, which is theoretically capable of reaching Alaska.
On Monday the North signalled it would go ahead despite warnings from the United States, South Korea and Japan.
It said it has a right to pursue "peaceful" space research, a term it used in 1998 when it fired a missile over Japan.
The North said the 1998 exercise was a bid to launch a satellite, while its neighbours said the real intention was to test the missile.