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North Korea Missile Tests Draw World's Ire

Prepared by: Esther Pan
July 5, 2006

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In defiance of international warnings, North Korea test-fired at least seven missiles into the Sea of Japan (NYT). The missile tests came in the face of stern warnings from the United States, Japan, and China, and brought immediate international condemnation (AP). Japan, which feels particularly threatened by Pyongyang (BBC), responded by banning the docking of a ferry that is the main transport link between Japan and North Korea (Asia Times) and called for additional sanctions (al-Jazeera). At the request of Japan's government, the United Nations convened an emergency session to discuss the North Korea tests (AP). The White House called the missile launches "provocative" but said they did not threaten Americans. CFR President Richard Haass says on the Today show that Pyongyang is reminding the world it is a threat (Video clip).

North Korea's long-range Taepodong 2 missile, the focus of particular concern because it could potentially reach the United States, exploded in mid-air (LAT). The other missiles fired—up to ten—were reportedly a mix of short-range Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles. Australian officials report that North Korea may be preparing to test even more missiles (al-Jazeera). The BBC profiles North Korea's missile program, believed to include some 800 ballistic missiles that could potentially reach targets as far away as Alaska or Australia. The Asia Times details Pyongyang's history of missiles sales to rogue states around the world and lists its arsenal of missiles and their ranges. MSNBC offers an interactive feature on the North Korean arsenal, and a 2005 Congressional Research Service explores the debate over missile defense. The New York Times says in this editorial that, with its tests, North Korea once again proves itself a "rogue actor." And CFR Fellow Michael Levi tells Bernard Gwertzman in this interview that the real threat comes not from North Korea's missiles, but its nuclear weapons program.

Christopher Hill, assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said in Congressional testimony June 29 that while a North Korean missile launch would be a "serious international security matter" and would raise questions about the future of the Six-Party Talks, the United States is prepared to return to the table with no preconditions.

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