Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Missile Misfire

Japan has called for "swift, strong" U.N. action in response to North Korea's missile tests, and U.S. chief U.S. negotiator, Christopher Hill, warned the tests would not give North Korea a better bargaining position over its nuclear program, which is the focus of stalled six-party talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.
However, the tests did do one thing. It has created "unprecedented" international unity on the issue.

Stock markets around the world closed lower after the tests, while oil closed in New York Wednesday at a record high above $75 a barrel, which should was expected and across the way at the United Nations, Security Council members discussed a draft resolution proposed by Japan, backed by the United States and Britain, demanding countries cut off any money or materials that could be used for North Korea's missile program, diplomats said.

According to CNN, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said, "No member defended what the North Koreans had done." Japan's ambassador, Kenzo Oshima, said, "We hope the response from the council will be swift, strong and resolute."

An announcement on Pyongyang's Korean Central Broadcasting Station said North Korea's "strong war deterrent" had kept the country at peace and that it was prepared to respond to any moves by Washington, The Associated Press reported.
The broadcast did not mention the missile tests, but said, "Now, our military and people are fully prepared to cope with any provocation and challenge by U.S. imperialists.”

North Korea fired seven missiles Wednesday, one long-range and five shorter-range missiles beginning shortly after 3:30 a.m. (2:30 p.m. Tuesday ET) and a seventh missile around 5:20 p.m. (4:20 a.m. ET) Wednesday.

The missile causing the most concern, the Taepodong-2, which some analysts say is capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, was fired in the morning. It failed after about 40 seconds and landed in the sea about 200 miles (321 kilometers) west of Japan. The United States and Japan had urged Pyongyang to stick with the moratorium on long-range missile tests it declared in 1999, after it fired a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan in 1998.

Now, it is up to the diplomats. The six-party talks have stalled in recent months as North Korea has insisted on direct talks with Washington. Direct talks might be perceived by North Korea as being one of the “big boys around the table “ and in a small degree they are correct. However, sitting around the table with six nations is bigger, and actually gives Pyongyang more creditability. Let us hope North Korea understands this.

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