Accessibility links

Breaking News

White House Says North Korea Missile Test 'Not Constructive'

South Korea says North Korea has test fired missiles into the waters off its coast. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the Bush administration reaction from Germany, where President Bush is attending the G-8 summit of the leading industrialized nations.

South Korean defense officials say North Korea has launched a number of short-range missiles off its western coast.

Speaking in Germany, U.S. National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe says America and its allies believe North Korea should refrain from such tests and focus on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

He said Pyongyang should fulfill its obligation to close its nuclear reactors as part of a February deal reached with the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea. Johndroe says such missile tests are not constructive.

North Korea says it will not close its reactors until it receives $25 million from a North Korean account in a Macau bank that was frozen in 2005 after Washington said the funds were tied to alleged money laundering.

The Bush administration says it unfroze those funds in March. But because the money is tainted by charges of money laundering, some reputable banks in China and America have refused to handle those funds, further complicating the transfer.

Russia's deputy foreign minister says his country is working to help resolve the issue if the United States ensures that sanctions will not be used against Russian banks in the future.

President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed North Korea's position Wednesday in talks before the start of the G8 summit.

Speaking through a translator, Mr. Abe said he wants G8 leaders to bring more pressure to bear on Pyongyang to meet its nuclear obligations and resolve the dispute over Japanese civilians abducted by North Korean agents.

"Unfortunately, the North Koreans have not done anything to implement the initial actions," Mr. Abe said. "And also on the issue of abduction, they have not taken any sincere actions to resolve that issue. So we agreed that the G-8 leaders need to send a strong message to North Korea on these issues."

President Bush said G8 leaders have a common message that they expect North Korea to honor its obligations under the deal which supplies fuel oil to North Korea in return for it shutting down its nuclear reactors and allowing international inspectors to verify the move.

North Korea fired at least one missile off its eastern coast last month. U.S. and South Korean officials downplayed that launch as part of routine exercises.