North Korea has moved a Taepodong-2 long-range missile to a launch pad, suggesting it may be preparing to test the missile. The Taepodong-2 is reportedly capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States. North Korea is believed to have produced enough plutonium for several nuclear devices.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that testing the Taepodong-2 would violate the Statement of Principles that North Korea reached in September 2005 with the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. In that agreement, North Korea said it was willing in principle to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions in exchange for aid and security provisions:
"We regard it as [an] abrogation of obligations that North Korea undertook in the moratorium that they signed onto in 1999, that they reiterated in 2002, that is clearly a part of the framework agreement that was signed in September of this past year between the six parties. And so it would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act should North Korea decide to launch that missile."
Secretary of State Rice says the United States will consult with its partners on how to respond if North Korea test fires the Taepodong-2:
"I can assure everyone that it would be taken with utmost seriousness. I think it is already taken with utmost seriousness by regional states and by the world because it would once again show North Korea determined to deepen its isolation, determined not to take a path that is a path of compromise and a path of peace, but rather instead to once again saber-rattle."
North Korea has refused to return to the Six-Party Talks since last November, citing measures that the United States had taken against North Korean money laundering. White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley says North Korea should "come back to the six-party talks and talk about how they're going to give up their nuclear program." Testing the Taepodong-2 missile, says Mr. Hadley, would be a "bad idea."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.