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US Says North Korea Should Maintain Missile Test Moratorium

The Bush administration says it expects North Korea to maintain a moratorium on long-range missile testing and to return to six-party talks on its nuclear program.

In interviews on the Fox and CBS networks Sunday, White House spokesman Tony Snow said the North Korean government agreed in 1999 to not fire long-range missiles. He said Washington has been in contact with other governments and the United Nations to make it clear the North Koreans must honor that commitment.

Reports that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test have increased tension in the region. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Sunday his government would seek a meeting of the U.N. Security Council if North Korea tests a missile.

Aso told Japanese television that if Pyongyang fires a missile and it drops on Japan, Tokyo will regard it as an attack.

Earlier, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, said the United States would consider possible sanctions against North Korea if a test was carried out.

The reports of test preparations came as the six-party talks (between the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas) aimed at dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program remain stalled.

Last year North Korea declared it had nuclear weapons and since November has boycotted the talks, citing what it has called hostile American policies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.