U.S. calls North Korea missile launch ‘a provocation’
By DEB RIECHMANN
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) ” The Bush administration said Tuesday five missiles were fired by North Korea in what it called a provocation, but not an immediate threat to the United States.
“We do consider it provocative behavior,” National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said.
Four of the five missiles were short range, but the other was a long-range missile ” which failed after 35 seconds ” that U.S. officials believe is capable of reaching the United States. The short-range missiles landed in the Sea of Japan.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, told reporters, “The North Koreans have again clearly isolated themselves.”
White House officials at one point said six missiles were fired, but then backed off and said actually only five launching occurred.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned to confer, starting tonight, with her counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, over the missile firings, according to the State Department.
The test firings included a long-range Taepodong-2, the communist nation’s most advanced missile with a range of up to 9,320 miles, and five shorter-
range missiles, said Hadley.
A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missile launches were “no immediate threat to the U.S.”
In Colorado, the North American Aerospace Defense Command was put on heightened alert, or “Bravo-Plus” status, slightly higher than a medium threat level, on Monday in anticipation of possible activities by North Korea, said Michael Kucharek, a NORAD spokesman in Colorado Springs.
NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command is responsible for defending U.S. territory.
President Bush has been in consultation with Rice, Hadley and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state, is set to head to the region on Wednesday, and Hadley is to meet with his South Korean counterpart, a meeting in Washington that already had been scheduled, Snow said.
The test firings, which are seen as a provocation by the United States and other nations trying to get North Korea to submit to a verifiable nuclear program, occurred as Americans were celebrating Independence Day.
The reclusive communist nation’s action came after weeks of speculation that it was preparing to test its Taepodong 2 missile. The preparations prompted warnings from the United States and Japan, which had threatened possible economic sanctions in response.
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