N Korean missile test 'threatens food aid'


By North Asia correspondent Shane McLeod

South Korea has warned it may end food aid to North Korea if Pyongyang test-fires a new long-range missile.

The South has been one of North Korea's most generous aid donors in recent years.

There is speculation that North Korea is planning to launch a long-range Taepodong II missile from a site in the north of the country.

South Korea says while it is not certain a launch is imminent, it could have a destabilising effect on regional and global politics.

The Foreign Ministry says South Korea may reconsider its food aid if a launch goes ahead.

South Korea gives around 400,000 tonnes of rice and other food to the North each year as development assistance.

The United States has indicated that it will use "all options" if a North Korean missile is test-fired towards it.

The US is reported to have activated its missile defence systems in anticipation of a possible launch by North Korea.

Speaking in Tokyo, US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer said his country has options it has not had in the past, and all options are on the table.

South Korean news agency Yonhap says a North Korean official has proposed talks with the US to reduce tensions over the reported launch plans, but North Korea maintains the right to develop missiles for itself.

Tensions over the missile launch have forced former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung to cancel a planned visit to Pyongyang next week.