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North Korean ballistic missiles fall down near Russia, stir up global controversy

North Korean ballistic missiles fall down near Russia, stir up global controversy

North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests. The country labeled by US President Bush as a link in the “axis of evil” launched long-range Taepodong-2 missile that is capable of hitting US-located targets. The launched missiles fell down on the territory which is closer to Russia than to Japan. The Japanese Defense Administration registered six launches.

Specialists believe that technical malfunctions occurred with each of the launched missiles during the 40th second of their flight. They all fell down in the north-western part of the Sea of Japan. The missiles went down to the sea floor inside Russia’s 200-mile economic area. One of the missiles hit the sea surface only several dozens of kilometers far from the town of Nakhodka, the Far East of Russia.

The first launch was performed at 03.30 a.m. Tuesday. The second one followed 30 minutes later, the third missile blasted off in an hour, the fifth – at 07.10 a.m. and the sixth – at 08.20 a.m.

All the six missiles covered the distance of about 500 kilometers and fell down ten minutes after the launch, Itar-Tass reports. According to the Japanese Defense Administration, the first, the fourth and the fifth missiles were classified as short-range Scud rockets. The second and the sixth were Nodon ballistic missiles (up to 1,300 km), whereas the third one was the two-stage Taepodong-2 rocket.

The flight of the third missile was the longest. It was launched at about 05:00 a.m. and fell down ten minutes later 250 kilometers south-east off the Russian city of Vladivostok. It was reported earlier, though, that the missile could easily reach USA’s Alaska.

Spokespeople for the North Korean leadership confirmed the fact of the missile tests. An official from the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the country said that it was a national sovereignty question. The statement was made during a conversation with Japanese journalists in Pyongyang.

In the meantime, the Command of the Russian Pacific Navy is not going to comment on the North Korean missile tests.

A spokesman for the administration of the South Korean president said that the launch of the Taepodong-2 rocket was considered a failure. The official said that the North Korean administration made an unwise decision to conduct the tests and urged Pyongyang to resume the talks aimed at the solution of the North Korean nuclear problem.

The news of North Korea’s intention to launch its latest missile Taepodong-2 surfaced in May of the current year. Many observers said that it was a form of pressure that N.Korea was trying to show against the USA which had imposed sanctions against several North Korean companies on the fake dollar production allegation. Pyongyang subsequently refused to resume six-sided negotiations; the talks were suspended in November of 2005.

A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mikhail Kamynin, stated that the test missiles conducted by North Korea were a provocative action, which considerably worsened the situation with North Korean nuclear program. The official added that Russia would take an active part in the session of the UN Security Council devoted to the issue.

North Korea did not notify Russia of the scheduled missile tests, Interfax reports. The source added that Pyongyang was not a member of any international agreements that would make it issue such a warning to other countries.

Tokyo and Washington initiated an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council in connection with the launches of N.Korean missiles. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso discussed the problem on the phone and concluded that North Korea violated international agreements stipulating a moratorium for N.Korean missile tests.

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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