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Australia warns N Korea on missile test -

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Australia warns N Korea on missile test

Reporter: Shane McLeod

QUENTIN DEMPSTER: Suspicions are growing that North Korea is about to launch a long-range missile.
The United States and Japan have told Pyongyang that severe consequences would follow a test
firing. Canberra has also been quick to react: the North Korean ambassador to Australia was called
in to hear warnings that North Korea was making a grave mistake. North East Asia correspondent
Shane McLeod reports from Tokyo.

SHANE McLEOD, NORTH EAST ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Taking things to the brink has been a hallmark of
North Korean diplomacy. In 1998, it test-fired a long-range ballistic missile that sailed over
Japan, before crashing into the Pacific. Six years on, it could be about to do it again.

TONY SNOW (FOX NEWSREEL): The North Koreans themselves decided in 1999 that they'd place a
moratorium on this kind of testing, and we expect them to maintain the moratorium.

SHANE McLEOD: The United States believes this is the launch pad for a Taepodong-II: a bigger
missile with longer range, maybe enough to reach the west coast of the US. It now believes the
missile has been fuelled; a process that's difficult to reverse. That means a launch may be
imminent. From bases in Japan, it's stepped up its surveillance effort. Japan's Government is also
worried about a launch. In Tokyo, the cabinet met to consider the threat.

JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: (Translation) If North Korea were to launch a missile,
then Japan and the US would need to discuss the issue and take severe measures.

SHANE McLEOD: Meetings in 2002 between Japan and North Korea's leaders resulted in an agreement to
end missile tests. With the possibility of another looming, Japan and the US are lining up together
to warn of the consequences. Less clear is the position of Russia, China and South Korea who are
all involved in 6-party talks on the North's nuclear programs. Japan is threatening sanctions if
North Korea presses ahead with a test: it's making a similar threat over human rights abuses. The
question is whether those sanctions can be effective when North Korea's main economic partner is
China. Some analysts believe the North is taking things to the brink because leader Kim Jong-il
wants the US to pay more diplomatic attention. If it proceeds with a launch, the chances are he
will get his wish. Shane McLeod, Lateline.