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Korean missile politics overshadow Seoul nuclear terrorism summit

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“Individual issues will not be discussed at the nuclear summit,” he said. “I do not know why they keep saying that.” Rather, he said, “This is a peace summit,” dedicated to coming out with rules to keep terrorists from acquiring and using nuclear weapons.

Containment, not denuclearization

North Korea’s plan comes as a bitter disappointment, considering that US nuclear envoy Glyn Davies and North Korea’s envoy Kim Kye-gwan came up with a deal on Feb. 29 that was widely described as “a breakthrough.” Mr. Kim said North Korea would observe a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests while Mr. Davies said the US would provide 240,000 tons of food aid.

“So what is Pyongyang up to?” asks Ralph Cossa, who runs the Pacific forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu. “The North Koreans pulled the rug out from everyone” at a time when it appeared “safe to go back to six-party talks,” last held in December 2008, on the North’s nuclear program, Mr. Cossa says.

Indeed, the specter of the North Korean missile test hangs heavy over the summit during which leaders are certain to mull the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran “on the sidelines,” over meals, in quiet sessions in hotel rooms – and in mini-summits with President Lee.

In symposiums and seminars staged here all week, analysts have focused on the shock of the North Korean rocket launch rather than on nuclear terrorism.

Everyone appears to agree that North Korea’s real aim is to test an advanced version of the same long-range Taepodong missile that it has test-fired on two previous occasions, in August 1998 and again in April 2009. In each of those cases, North Korea said it had put a satellite into orbit, but scientists say they never saw any sign of a satellite launch.

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