Missile test fears shadow S. Korea-China talks

South Korea's top nuclear envoy left for China Thursday for talks on North Korea, shadowed by signs that Pyongyang is preparing an imminent long-range missile test.

Lim Sung-Nam, Seoul's chief negotiator to six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme, was to meet with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei and other Beijing officials during his two-day trip.

Prior to departure, Lim told the Yonhap news agency that his meeting would focus on an "exchange (of) views on the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula".

Satellite operator DigitalGlobe Inc. recently released new images showing increased activity at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station that suggested a possible missile test in the next three weeks.

DigitalGlobe said the type of activity was consistent with preparations observed before North Korea's failed launch of its Unha-3 missile in April.

South Korean military officials have also cited intelligence reports pointing to a test sometime in December or January.

Pyongyang insisted the April launch bid was aimed at putting a satellite in orbit, but the United States and United Nations denounced the mission as a disguised ballistic missile test.

North Korea is known to have an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) in development -- the Taepodong-2 -- but it has never been tested successfully.

Days after the failed April test, North Korea raised eyebrows by displaying what appeared to be a new set of ICBMs at a military parade to mark the 100th birthday of the North's late founder Kim Il-Sung.

But Western military analysts and UN sanctions experts concluded that the display models were simply mock-ups.

The six-party talks, triggered by Pyongyang's decision to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 2003, comprise representatives from North and South Korea, China, the United States, Russia and Japan.

Pyongyang walked out of the negotiations in April 2009, a month before it carried out its second atomic weapons test.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 1 hour 50 minutes ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 2 hours 46 minutes ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 6 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania
    McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania

    It may not be safe to enter a McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore on Mondays starting 28 April. To celebrate the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, the fast food chain announced last Friday that it would be releasing a new collection of Hello Kitty toys in McDonald’s restaurants island wide next Monday.

  • First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy
    First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy

    He called the emergency 119 number which put him through to the fire service, which in turn forwarded him to the coastguard two minutes later. That was followed by about 20 other calls from children on board the ship to the emergency number, a fire service officer told Reuters.