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.

  • How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds 6 hours ago
    How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds

    “I didn't steal your car but I think my mom may have. It's a long story. I'll explain, but your car is safe and sound," read the flier posted in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a strange tale that began when Cheyrl Thorpe was asked by her daughter Nekisia Davis to dog sit her Pomeranian at her apartment, according to New York Magazine.

  • All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground 8 hours ago
    All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground

    Much of Subaru’s modern day success in America can be attributed to one car: the Outback. Born in 1994 as a response to the growing popularity of SUVs, the Outback established a winning formula of combining a high-riding suspension, butch body cladding and big round fog lights to its comfortable, no-nonsense Legacy wagon. It is the kind of unique product that only a quirky company like Subaru could build, and was one that kept Subaru from slipping into ubiquity even as traditional SUVs and crossovers have taken over the world.

  • Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers 9 hours ago
    Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers

    For the record, it's the year 2014. I mention that in case someone reading this story about a push to replace horses with motorized carriages thinks they've stumbled onto some archival piece by accident. It's been more than 100 years since the first vehicles began to trundle around Manhattan, but the last remaining vestiges of horse-powered transport in the city could be nigh — if the backers of a massive electric wagon get their way.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.