Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi denied in Tokyo Tuesday his country's medium-range Shahab-3 missile had been developed with technology from North Korea, a Japanese foreign ministry official said.
"It has been developed independently and had nothing to do with other countries at all," Kharrazi was quoted as telling his Japanese counterpart, Yohei Kono.
Kharrazi, who arrived here Tuesday accompanying Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, was referring to a US report earlier this year that North Korea had supplied missiles or missile-related technology to Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Syria.
Kono touched on the report, from the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the official said.
The American group said North Korea had provided Iran with the technology from its Scud-C and Nodong-1 missiles, which were themselves developed with Russian technical know-how.
The Japanese foreign minister pointed out to Kharrazi that the Shahab 3 was similar to weapons developed by North Korea, the official said.
North Korea launched a suspected medium-range Taepodong missile over Japan and into the Pacific in August 1998, drawing protests and sanctions from Japan, the United States and other countries.
Pyongyang has insisted that it was a satellite-carrying rocket which was launched.
The United States and North Korea were due to open three days of talks in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday on North Korea's suspected missile program.
Kharrazi said Iran's missile development was part of its "defense activities" because its neighbors were armed with nuclear weapons and missiles, the official said.
He described missile development as something which "cannot be helped" unless the Middle East became a demilitarized zone, the official said – TOKYO (AFP)
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