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North Korea test-fires 7th missile


(CNN) -- North Korea test-fired a seventh missile Wednesday -- amid international furor over the regime's launch of six missiles just hours earlier.


July 5, 2006


The Japanese Defense Agency said one ballistic missile was fired from southeastern North Korea around 5:20 p.m. (4:20 a.m. ET), landing in the Sea of Japan about 10 minutes later.


The range of the missile has not been confirmed by CNN. However, Japanese news agencies said it was medium-range.


The seventh test came after North Korea launched one long-range and five shorter-range missiles shortly after 3:30 a.m. Wednesday (2:30 p.m. Tuesday ET). Those tests lasted about five hours.


But the closely-watched Taepodong-2 missile, which some analysts say is capable of hitting the western United States, failed after about 40 seconds and landed in the sea about 200 miles (321 kilometers) west of Japan, U.S. officials said.

News agencies report the U.S. military thinks the longer-range missile test was a launch failure and was not aborted.


The short-range missiles also all landed in the Sea of Japan.


The U.N. Security Council is planning to meet Wednesday morning to discuss North Korea's actions.


U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said he was "urgently consulting" with other members of the 15-nation council.


The United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia were quick to condemn the tests. North Korea's close ally China, which last week urged North Korea to refrain from missile tests, urged all parties to remain calm.


U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley described the missile launches as "provocative behavior," but said they posted no immediate threat to the United States.


President George W. Bush met with Hadley, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the tests were going on, a senior administration official said.


But he went ahead with plans to watch Independence Day fireworks and hold a gathering at the White House for his 60th birthday, the official said.

Hadley said Washington dispatched Christopher Hill to consult with U.S. allies in Asia after the tests.


Hill has been the lead U.S. negotiator in six-party talks -- which includes the two Koreas, Japan, China and Russia -- aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.


Meanwhile, the White House issued a statement saying the United States "strongly condemns" the launches and North Korea's "unwillingness to heed calls for restraint from the international community."


"We are consulting with international partners on next steps," the statement said.

"This provocative act violates a standing moratorium on missile tests to which the North had previously committed."


The United States and Japan had urged Pyongyang to stick with the moratorium on long-range missile tests it declared in 1999, after it fired a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan in 1998.


"We can now examine what the launches tell us about the intentions of North Korea," Hadley told reporters.


Washington and North Korea's Asian neighbors have been trying to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear program since 2002.




A spokesman for South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said after a National Security Council meeting Wednesday that North Korea must take responsibility for events resulting from its firing of the missiles.


"That has only served to strengthen the position of the hard-liners toward North Korea, will deepen the country's isolation and give an excuse for a military buildup in the region," said Roh spokesman Suh Ju-Suk.


A Japanese foreign ministry press official, Akira Chiba, told CNN that Japan was studying "stern measures" and these would be announced shortly.

Abe said Japan, which provides an extensive amount of food aid to North Korea, would respond to the tests with a strong protest. Japan has previously suggested it would withhold some of that aid or limit trade with Pyongyang if North Korea conducted a test.


Shinzo Abe, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, said the test was a source of "grave concern."


Australian Prime Minister John Howard also called the tests "extremely provocative," according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.


"China has more influence on North Korea than any other country, and I hope that China uses that influence. And that is a view that I put in very strong terms to the Chinese premier when I raised this matter," Howard was quoted as saying.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, in a brief statement posted on the ministry's Web site, expressed concern over North Korea's missile tests and urged all parties to remain calm, The Associated Press reported.


"We are seriously concerned with the situation which has already happened," he said. "We hope that all the relevant sides can remain calm and restrained and do more things which are conducive to peace and stability ... and not take any actions to escalate and complicate the situation."


The statement was China's first response to North Korea's series of tests, AP said.

Mark Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, told CNN: "We can assume that China is working behind the scenes to make sure North Korea doesn't makes any more provocative moves."


He added that the tests were "a way for North Korea to show the world that it can't be pushed around without pushing back."


Some analysts said the tests were also an effort by impoverished North Korea to redirect attention to the six-party talks.


"North Korea's point here is that they have capabilities, growing capabilities, and that they should be taken in a very serious way," said Wendy Sherman, a former State Department official who held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il during the Clinton administration.


Jim Walsh, a national security analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also said the tests appeared to be an attempt to focus on North Korean demands in the six-party negotiations.


But Walsh said the tests "do not represent an immediate military threat to the United States."


'Difficult technology'


"It's very difficult technology. They very clearly have not mastered it," he said. "Most estimates are they will not master it for another 10 years."

A senior State Department official said a response would be coordinated among the remaining members of the talks, with Japan likely to take the lead. But the Bush administration does not want to "overplay" the tests, the official said.

On Monday, North Korea's state-run media accused the United States of harassing it and vowed to respond to any pre-emptive attack "with a relentless annihilating strike and a nuclear war with a mighty nuclear deterrent.")


The White House has dismissed that threat as "hypothetical."


Intelligence agencies around the region had been watching preparations for the long-range test, but the shorter-range missiles were launched from a different site. At least four of those missiles were variants of the Soviet-era Scud series, with ranges estimated from about 100 to over 600 miles (160 to 965 kilometers).

The U.S. Northern Command increased security measures at its Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a few weeks ago, a military official confirmed Tuesday.


The base is the seat of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and some of its command-and-control operations might have been used if the United States attempted to use its ballistic missile interceptors -- which have a mixed record of success -- to shoot down a potential Taepodong-2 test.


Two interceptor missiles were activated at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in anticipation of the test and could have been fired by controllers at NORAD, Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, told CNN.


Lehner said nine other interceptors were activated at Fort Greely, Alaska.


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