Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korean missile tests - 'a provocative act'

It wasn’t just fireworks that filled the sky on America’s Independence Day. The 4th of July was also marked with the launch of space shuttle Discovery, continued missile launches from both sides in the Gaza stand-off, and at the end of the day the first test firing of North Korea's long range missile. After yesterday’s test of the Taepodong-2 long-range missile, the world has reacted angrily. Japan has threatened sanctions and both Japan and South Korean’s military have been placed on high alert. Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said that dialogue was needed to solve the crisis. The US administration has confirmed that NORAD was ready to intercept the missiles if necessary. Sandy Berger [Natl Security Adviser] speaking on CNN’s Larry King, said he was not surprised by the test firings and said the US needed to react with a stern response. John Pike, director of, said, “We’ve been running an arms race with North Korea and we’re still losing”, but added, “we need to re-evaluate our objectives”. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, said she was very concerned about North Korea’s motives, besides the missile tests apparently failing. The US military today confirmed that a total of 7 missiles were fired, 1 Taepodong-2 long-range missile and six short to medium range missiles. Republican Duncan Hunter, [R] Calif. Chmn Armed Services Cmmte, told Larry King he expected that it would only be a matter of time before North Korea could hit the US and “we need to be prepared”.

Margaret Becket, Britain’s foreign secretary, said the missile tests were “provocative”. Described as an unstable part of the world by a BBC correspondent, it was suggested the tests could start an arms race [BBC] with Japan and increase tensions with Japan and China. China is North Korea’s closest ally. The UN Security Council is to be convened soon but consensus between 15 countries is likely to be difficult to achieve. CNN’s David Roth said the tests certainly got the world’s attention, and “a few senators were likely upset at having the World Cup interrupted by this news”. Senator Jon Kyl, [R] Arizona, described Kim Jong-il's action as a “temper tantrum” and said that the US should pressure China to force North Korea to attend the negotiating table. As yet there has been no official word from China. North Korea also remains silent and no statement has yet been released by Kim Jong-il or his government.

CNN broke into the re-broadcast Larry King Live in order to inform viewers that a seventh missile at 17:22 local time [08:22 GMT]. It was unclear what type of missile it was according to Atika Shubert, CNN’s Tokyo correspondent, who also said that there was a small dip on the stock market but compared to recent financial scandals it was not that significant. Posted by Picasa

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