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North Korea Defends Missile Program - 2004-10-12

North Korea says it has the right to test and deploy missiles in response to U.S. threats.

A North Korean commentary, monitored by South Korea's Yonhap news agency, says Pyongyang's test, production and deployment of missiles is self-defensive in nature and poses no threat to anyone.

The North Korean statement followed Japanese reports that activity at North Korean ballistic missile bases has dwindled, lessening chances that Pyongyang is preparing a launch.

The Yomiuri Shimbun Monday quoted a Japanese government source as saying the recent military activities seem to have just been exercises by North Korean forces.

North Korea launched a long-range missile over Japan's main island in 1998, and test-fired several short-range, anti-ship missiles into the ocean last year.