WORLD / Asia-Pacific

White House condemns N. Korea missile test
Updated: 2006-07-05 18:50

The White House is calculating its response to North Korea's defiant Fourth of July missile tests which raised the stakes in a nuclear standoff and pressured the United States and its partners to penalize Pyongyang.

The US government strongly condemned North Korea's test-firing of six missiles, including a long-range one capable of reaching US soil, but said they did not pose a danger to America.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen in this framegrab taken from Chinese television on January 18, 2006. [AP file photo]

North Korea fired a seventh missile early Wednesday, after the initial round of US reaction.

For now, talking is the order of the day. Japan asked the UN Security Council to hold an emergency session Wednesday. Tokyo was expected to present a UN resolution protesting the missile tests, which sent US officials scurrying to telephones for urgent, long-distance diplomacy.

The long-range missile, called the Taepondong-2, failed in less than a minute after liftoff. It's unclear what North Korea learned from launching the shorter and medium-range ones, which fell into the Sea of Japan, but could be capable of striking its neighbors.

"Regardless of whether the series of launches occurred as North Korea planned, they nevertheless demonstrate North Korea's intent to intimidate other states by developing missiles of increasingly longer ranges," White House press secretary Tony Snow said in a statement released late Tuesday night. "We urge the North to refrain from further provocative acts, including further ballistic missile launches."

The White House said the United States would continue to take all necessary measures to protect itself and its allies.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state, began talking Tuesday with their counterparts in Japan, China, Russia and South Korea. Hill was being dispatched to the region for new rounds of discussions.

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