Prime Ministers of China and North Korea discuss nuclear situation; DPRK insists it intends to launch a satellite and not a missile, notifies UN agencies of the launch; US considering shooting down the projectile
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  • Prime Ministers of China and North Korea discussed the nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula amidst rising tensions over Pyongyang's atomic and missile programmes. China's Wen Jiabao told Kim Yong-Il in talks broadcast on state television that China was “willing to actively push forward the six-party talks and continue to play a constructive role in realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula1."

    North Korea on its part insisted that it intends to launch a satellite and not a missile in early April 2009. Pyongyang has notified two UN agencies, the International Maritime Organization and the Civil Aviation Organization of its prospective satellite launch. Sources also indicated that the US was considering shooting down the projectile, which it considers to be a missile2. In 1998 and 2006, Pyongyang did not give advance warning of its missile launches.

    Reports noted that the timing of the North Korean launch could be intended to strengthen its bargaining position in the Six-Party talks and Pyongyang’s decision to inform the international community may be geared towards preempting a UN resolution. The US, Japan and South Korea meanwhile were mobilizing Russian and Chinese support to dissuade the DPRK from going ahead with the test3.