'Iran must win trust in nuclear program'

After meeting Iranian FM, South Korean FM stresses importance of Teheran restoring int'l confidence.

mottaki syrian fm 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
mottaki syrian fm 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Iran must restore international confidence in its nuclear program, South Korea said Thursday after the Middle Eastern nation tested a long-range missile. The US and many of its allies have accused Iran of using its nuclear program as a cover for weapons development. Iran denies the charge, saying it is focused on building reactors to generate electricity. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki "emphasized the Iranian nuclear program is being pushed for peaceful purposes" in talks in Seoul with South Korean counterpart Yu Myung-hwan, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said. Yu replied that it was important for Iran to win confidence in its nuclear program, the ministry said in a statement. On Wednesday, Iran said it successfully test-fired a new long-range missile - one that could easily strike Israel and perhaps southeastern Europe with greater precision than earlier models. It was not clear whether the missile was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. A senior US military official said the missile flew for just nine seconds a distance of 290 kilometers before veering off. The missile then exploded but it was unclear whether it was a malfunction or if it was programmed to self-destruct, the official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence. Yu and Mottaki did not discuss the missile test, according a Foreign Ministry official who attended the meeting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity citing office policy. Mottaki did not respond to a reporter's question about the test as he left the Foreign Ministry later Thursday. Mottaki arrived in Seoul from North Korea early Thursday. On Wednesday he met North Korea's No. 2 leader Kim Yong Nam, Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun and other top officials. In a banquet speech, Mottaki said "friendly ties" between Iran and North Korea were "growing stronger in various fields," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency. South Korea's National Intelligence Service said it would not comment on Mottaki's trip to North Korea, saying it was a foreign diplomatic affair. North Korea and Iran are both under intense international pressure to give up their nuclear programs. The North is believed to have sold missiles to Iran. During the meeting with Mottaki on Thursday, Yu stressed the need for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, saying North Korea should abandon its nuclear programs, the ministry official said. Iran established diplomatic ties with North Korea in 1973, according to South Korea's Foreign Ministry. Iran and South Korea established ties in 1962.