Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korea launches missile show

By Bill Gertz- THE WASHINGTON TIMES July 5, 2006 North Korea launched a volley of missiles yesterday, including a long-range Taepodong-2, which can strike U.S. territory, and five others, including one that landed near Russian territory. A Pentagon official said there were "multiple launches from multiple locations" and added that more launches may come from North Korea in the coming days. "They are out to prove a point," the official said of Pyongyang's reclusive communist regime. The White House and U.S. air-defense officials last night said that there were six launches over a four-hour period. "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea launched six ballistic missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 missile," the U.S. Northern Command said last night. The 9,300-mile-range Taepodong-2, which can reach parts of the United States, appeared to have failed after 42 seconds of flight, said U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Officials had no other details on the failed Taepodong test or the missile that landed close to Russia. The other launches were of shorter-range missiles -- the 620-mile-range Nodong missile and a Scud-type missile with a range of 300 to 500 miles. The U.S. government was prepared to shoot down the Taepodong-2 if it appeared to be heading to U.S. or allied territory, using the new limited missile-defense system with interceptors deployed in Alaska and California. The White House said North Korea's decision to escalate its nuclear standoff with the international community by test-firing missiles will further alienate it from the international community. "The North Koreans have again clearly isolated themselves," White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters. "We do consider it provocative behavior," National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley said. President Bush had met with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mr. Hadley, Mr. Snow said.

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