Around The World


SEOUL - South Korea said today it has developed new short-range surface-to-air missiles and will begin deploying them in December.

But it denied that it is trying to develop longer-range missiles in violation of an agreement with the United States.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said the deployment of the first locally developed short-range missile - code-named Chonma, or Pegasus - will mark a milestone in South Korea's effort to improve its defense capability. South Korea usually relies on the United States to supply almost all of its weapons.

A news release from the ministry said the missile - designed and developed by the state-run Agency for Defense Development - has a 6-mile range, high mobility and an advanced guidance system. The new missile is designed to protect major military and government facilities in and around cities from low-flying enemy attacks, the news release said.

Earlier today, the Seoul government denied a New York Times report that it is hiding parts of its missile program from the United States.

"U.S. officials have visited every facility we have, and they have been fully informed of what we did and are doing," a Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

The Times report yesterday said South Korea has shielded parts of its weapons program from the United States amid efforts to develop longer-range missiles.

Quoting Pentagon officials, the report said U.S. satellite photos revealed that South Korea had built a rocket motor test station, which is used to launch longer-range missiles, without notifying the United States.

Rocket failure deals setback to Japanese space program

TOKYO - Japan's space program suffered a major setback today when a domestically made rocket developed engine trouble and was destroyed shortly after launch.

The rocket's main engine developed problems four minutes after the launch, and officials ordered it destroyed because they were concerned they might lose control of it.

The satellite was to have been used to observe weather patterns and monitor aircraft.

Japan successfully has put a satellite in orbit around the moon and was the first country to dock two satellites in space by remote control. Concerned by the development of long-range missiles by communist neighbor North Korea, Japan also has vowed to launch the nation's first spy satellites in 2003.

Chinese parks to stop shows of tigers eating live animals

HONG KONG - Chinese wildlife parks no longer would feature shows in which domestic animals are eaten alive by tigers under regulations officials say were drafted to end the spectacles, animal-rights groups reported today.

Workers for Animals Asia Foundation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare said they hope the draft regulations will be made formal and stop the shows they say are performed daily at several parks in mainland China.

Animals Asia Foundation founder Jill Robinson showed reporters videotapes she said were shot last month at the Xiongshen Bear and Tiger Entertainment City in the city of Guilin, where a pig and an ox were put into a cage and eaten alive by two tigers. Park officials say they are training the tigers so they can better survive when released into the wild.

Former Scientology leader guilty of fraud in France

MARSEILLE, France - A French court found five members of the Church of Scientology guilty of fraud today, a setback for the group's efforts to become recognized in France as a religion, not a sect.

A court in the southern city of Marseille gave regional Scientology leader Xavier Delamare a two-year sentence. He will not go to jail, however, because the court suspended 18 months of the sentence and credited him with six months for time he served in 1990. He also was fined $1,700.

Four other Scientologists received suspended prison sentences of six months to two years, while two others were acquitted.

The Scientologists were accused of allegedly accepting money for sham "purification" treatments that included going to a sauna, running races and being given massive doses of vitamins. The proposed treatment cost $2,000 to $25,000.

Moderate tops ex-Communist for Macedonian president

SKOPJE, Macedonia - A moderate candidate from the ruling party beat his former Communist opponent in presidential elections in this ethnically tense Balkan nation, early results showed today, but there was concern about voting irregularities.

Boris Trajkovski, 43, from the ruling party, known by its initials as VMRO, received 592,118 votes compared to his rival's 514,735, Macedonian Television reported.

Trajkovski's rival - hard-line candidate Tito Petkovski, 54, of the Social Democrats - the renamed Communist Party - charged that there was an impossibly high turnout there of 90 percent to 100 percent minority Albanians, who backed Trajkovski.

One quarter of Macedonia's 2 million people are ethnic Albanians. They have demanded more rights, including use of the Albanian symbols and language.

Macedonia's sluggish economy was strained further when the country took in 300,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo during the conflict in the neighboring Yugoslav province.