- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

1:17 p.m.

SEOUL — North Korea test-fired a seventh missile today, intensifying the furor that began when the reclusive regime defied international protests by launching a long-range missile and at least five shorter-range rockets earlier in the day.

The missiles, all of which apparently fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan, provoked international condemnation, the convening of an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and calls in Tokyo for economic sanctions against the impoverished communist regime.

Ambassadors from the 15 nations on the U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session to discuss a response. Japan said it was considering calling for sanctions against North Korea in a U.N. resolution, while China’s ambassador indicated that Beijing would favor a much weaker council statement.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the council must send a “strong and unanimous signal” to North Korea that its actions were unacceptable.

North Korea has remained defiant, with one official arguing it had the right to such launches. The tests and the impenitent North Korean attitude raised fears that more firings could follow.

North Korea’s state-run media did not mention the tests, but a commentator on its Korean Central Broadcasting Station said the country’s “military and people are fully prepared to cope with any provocation and challenge by U.S. imperialists.”

“Maintenance of peace in our country is entirely made possible by our strong war deterrent,” the announcer said, adding that without it, the north would have suffered a “cruel nuclear disaster.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the outrage heard around the world was a message to Pyongyang to “change its behavior.”

An official at the South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that North Korea had tested a seventh missile that was either short- or medium-range. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of agency rules.

Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported that the missile landed six minutes after launch but did not say where. The chief of Russia’s general staff said that Russian tracking systems showed Pyongyang may have launched up to 10 missiles during the day, the Interfax news agency reported.

U.S. officials said North Korea fired a long-range Taepodong-2 early in the day but that it failed shortly after takeoff, calling into question the technological capability of North Korea’s feared ballistic missile program. Pyongyang last fired a long-range missile in 1998.

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