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xx Tue Jun 20 2006 08:48:12 ET xx

North Korea says it has full autonomy to conduct missile tests and outsiders do not have the right to criticize its plans, Kyodo News agency reported Tuesday.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry regards the issue of a long-range missile test launch as one "not bound by any statement such as the Pyongyang Declaration," a deputy chief-level researcher at the ministry's Asian Affairs Department told a group of Japanese reporters Tuesday.

South Korea's state intelligence agency believes North Korea has yet to finish fueling a ballistic missile it may soon test, a South Korean lawmaker said Tuesday.

The National Intelligence Service made the assessment in a report to the intelligence committee of the National Assembly, South Korea's parliament, said Chung Hyung Keun of the opposition Grand National Party.

"The NIS reported that it is difficult to believe the fueling has been completed because 40 fuel tanks detected near the launch pad are not enough for propellant of about 65 tons, including 15 tons of kerosene," Chung told reporters.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon, who is in Geneva, said, "It's not quite sure whether they have put this fuel in the rockets. But it seems sure that they have assembled the missiles on the launching pad."

"We sincerely hope the North Koreans will not take such negative steps which may have very seriously negative impact on the situation in northeast Asia," he said.

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