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
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
"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
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
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,
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."
"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
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
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.