China, N. Korea warn Washington on NMD

WASHINGTON, JULY 12. China and North Korea have told the Clinton administration in blunt terms that if Washington proceeded with its own National Missile Defence plan, the two countries would be hard pressed to cooperate with the United States' concern over weapons exports.

The Washington Post, quoting western sources, is saying that Chinese officials in particular have told the administration here that if the U.S. proceeded to export technology to Taiwan for a Theatre Missile Defence system, they will continue to sell missile technology to Pakistan and possibly to other countries in West Asia.

The pointed warning to Washington from Beijing comes at a time when the President, Mr. Bill Clinton, is said to be only weeks away from making a decision on the National Missile Defence system. The Clinton administration favours a modest system as opposed to the hardline conservatives who are pushing for a more ambitious shield that would protect not only all of the U.S. but also its allies.

The Defence Secretary, Mr. William Cohen, has told the media on his way to China that the failure of a latest missile test did not mean that he was going to recommend against moving ahead with the programme. Washington has been maintaining that it is looking for a system that would provide protection from attacks from so- called rogue nations such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea. But Russia and China are adamantly opposed to this idea as it dilutes their missiles; and Beijing sees a Taiwan angle to the U.S. plan.

Asian diplomats have been quoted in The Post report as saying that North Korea has warned Washington that there is a link between curbs of missile exports to the planned national missile defence system.

China's warning to the Clinton administration also comes at a time when the U.S.Senate is considering the Normal Permanent Trade Relations Bill. It was supposed to have been an easy time in the Senate but hardliners are proposing amendments that would link the passage of the PNTR to restraint in the realm of nuclear and missile technology exports.

AP reports from Kuala Lumpur:

Negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea over paying Pyongyang to curb the development and export of ballistic missiles ended in stalemate today with both sides agreeing to hold more talks.

Three days of meetings here failed to produce any breakthrough on North Korea's missile programme, which took on fresh importance in U.S. eyes after last weekend's failed test for the proposed American missile defence shield against so- called rogue states.

Mr. Jang Chang Chon, head of North Korea's bureau on U.S. affairs, told reporters outside the U.S. embassy after the final meeting that the sides had agreed to disagree.