North Korea launched at least six missiles from its territory today, including a long-range Taepodong-2 missile.
U.S. officials at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirm the detection of missile launches.
While the smaller land-to-air, mid-range weapons landed harmlessly in the Sea of Japan, the long-range rocket test apparently failed early in its test.
“This is a clear escalation by a belligerent state which is progressing toward … a delivery vehicle,” said Mike Norman, a talk-show host on the BizRadio Network. “It is time we finish this. We take their missiles on the launch platform, take ’em out, send a clear unequivocal message.”
The missiles were launched from a site other than the one intelligence officials have watched for weeks ahead of a possible long-range weapons test, a senior State Department official told CNN.
“This is just an attempt by North Korea to intimidate the nations in the region,” said Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, a military analyst on the Fox News Channel. “This is a far cry from being a legitimate threat, particularly to the United States. … The rising threat in the world today is Iran. North Korea is pretty much a sideline state.”
Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-Calif., appeared on Fox News to note the importance of having an operational missile-defense system in America.
“Now we’re faced with a situation where some lunatic in North Korea may well be developing a rocket that can hit the United States with a nuclear-armed missile,” he said. “Isn’t it good to be prepared? Aren’t we happy that Ronald Reagan didn’t give in and that we are now in the process of deploying a system that could protect us against this?”
President Bush has warned the communist state it would face further isolation if it violates agreements by launching a rocket capable of reaching the American continent.
“The North Koreans have made agreements with us in the past, and we expect them to keep their agreements,” Bush said last month at the European Union summit.
The incident comes as America celebrated its 230th birthday with its own Independence Day launch of space shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
“What a day to rattle our cage,” said Fox News host David Asman.
In 1998, North Korea fired a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan, but declared a moratorium on future tests a year later.
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