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N. Korea Warns Japan About Possible Military Strike - 2003-04-09


North Korea has warned Tokyo to remember it is within striking range of the communist state. The warning came as South Korea announced that its president will go to Washington in May to meet with President Bush and discuss the dispute over North Korea's nuclear programs.

North Korea says Japan is becoming more militarized, and warns Tokyo to keep in mind that it is within reach of North Korea's arsenal.

A statement on state run media Wednesday said there have been "noisy war" outcries from Japan since the U.S. led war in Iraq began. That apparently refers to comments by some Japanese officials that Tokyo might strike preemptively if it thought North Korea was about to attack.

The North Korean warning coincided with an announcement from Seoul that South Korea President Roh Moo-hyun and President Bush will meet in Washington in mid May. The South Korean government says the two leaders will try to "forge a common stance" to peacefully resolve the international dispute over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The statement also comes just hours before the United Nations Security Council is to begin discuss North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons development program.

Worldwide alarm has grown since October, when the United States said Pyongyang had admitted having a banned nuclear weapons program. North Korea has since expelled United Nations nuclear inspectors, restarted a nuclear facility, withdrawn from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and test-launched missiles.

On Wednesday, Japanese government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda indicated that Tokyo is worried about the status of the Pyongyang Declaration, which Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed last year at a summit.

The declaration pledges the two governments to improve their relationship.

Mr. Fukuda says North Korea's withdrawal from the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty could be counter to the declaration, but that this is not the time to decide whether to abrogate the document.

North Korea accuses Tokyo of wanting to reinvade Asia - a reference to Japanese militarism in the first half of the 20th century. The statement Wednesday says Japan's launch of its first spy satellites last month proves that militarism is reviving.

Since the satellite launch, Japanese officials have become nervous about Pyongyang's saber rattling. There is concern that North Korea might fire a ballistic missile over Japan, as it did in 1998.

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