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News Briefs

China Missile Launch May Goad North Korea, Analysts Warn LOS ANGELES TIMES -- China’s launch this week of a new long-range missile could sharply complicate efforts to keep North Korea from following suit, analysts here say.

“It’s really bad timing,” said Ichita Yamamoto, a parliament member in Japan’s upper house and a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. “I’m sure it will give an excuse to North Korea that this is (justified by) national sovereignty.”

Yamamoto said Tuesday that the best way to discourage North Korean adventurism may be to threaten its access to Japanese technology and the estimated $600 million in cash remittances the country receives each year from Tokyo.

On Monday, China launched what experts believe is the Dongfeng-31 missile, capable of delivering a single nuclear warhead about 5,000 miles.

Analysts fear that North Korea could respond within the next few weeks by testing its Taepodong 2 missile -- a powerful new rocket with a range of 3,800 to 6,000 miles that would put Alaska or Hawaii within its reach.

Federal Timber Sales Halted
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- In a major move to protect wildlife in old-growth forests, a judge has halted nine federal timber sales in the Pacific Northwest and ordered further reviews that could stop logging in large sections of Washington, Oregon and California.

Ruling in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, U.S. District Judge William Dwyer in Seattle ordered the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management late Monday to conduct detailed wildlife surveys before proceeding to log up to 100 million board feet of timber on federal lands -- in accordance with the Clinton administration’s Northwest Forest Plan.

Also, no new logging can take place on 100 other timber sales in the three states without the court’s consent, an order that could affect the majority of logging approved on federal lands in the Northwest over the past several years.

The ruling is the most significant rollback of federal logging since the northern spotted owl’s decline in the early 1990s brought federal court oversight to Pacific Northwest timber harvests. Conservation groups hailed it as a new move to protect declining wildlife in the nation’s last remaining old-growth forests.

Lab Access Limits Found Dangerous NEWSDAY -- Congressional fears of espionage are creating a Cold War-like security atmosphere in Department of Energy-run laboratories, threatening to straitjacket American science, researchers charged in two days of hearings at the National Academy of Sciences.

In particular, the scientists pinpointed a new “sensitive subjects list” created by the energy department in the wake of alleged security breaches at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, with one Nobel laureate -- physicist Burton Richter -- referring to the list as “truly pernicious.”

The list is one of a number of tough new security measures established by Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson that include appointment of a former Air Force General, Eugene Habiger, as a semiautonomous “Security Czar” to oversee the labs, and mandatory security and counter-intelligence training sessions for key lab personnel.

The new measures come as some congressmen are threatening to mandate the most sweeping restrictions on the laboratories since the 1950s. Included in that threat is legislation that would invoke a $500,000 fine for release of “sensitive subjects” information to unauthorized personnel -- particularly scientists who are not U.S. citizens.