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Kim Jong Il Visits Russian Space Center - 2001-08-05


North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has visited Russian space facilities on the second day of his visit to Moscow. Kim Jong-Il has often expressed interest in Russia's space program, and he got a first-hand look at the space facilities.

The North Korean leader visited Mission Control center outside Moscow as well as a factory where Russia produces rockets, including the unique heavy Proton and light Rokot launchers. He also saw an exact replica of the space station Mir.

Security was tight and all Western reporters were barred from accompanying Mr. Kim.

Saturday, the North Korean insisted that his country's missile development program poses no threat to any other country. In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Kim also said there would be no new missile testing for at least two years.

The two leaders criticized the United States for its plan to build a missile defense shield, a project the Bush administration says is necessary, in part, because of the danger posed by North Korea.

But a joint declaration signed by the two leaders went even further in criticizing American policy in Asia. The document calls for the U.S. to withdraw its armed forces from South Korea, saying the troops pose a threat to stability in the region.

Mr. Kim's visit to the Russian capital has left many Russians bewildered and even angry. His arrival by train Friday stranded thousands of commuters when police closed one of the city's largest train stations.

Some commentators have written that the reclusive Communist leader's visit was like entering a time warp.

Before the Kremlin meeting, Mr. Kim became the first head of state since Soviet times to lay a wreath at the mausoleum of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin in Red Square.

Mr. Kim is to re-board his 21-car armored train to travel to St. Petersburg for a two day visit there.