Monday, July 31, 2006

North Korea’s Missile Test A ‘Complete Failure’

The Japanese government has assessed that North Korea’s test firing of a long-range missile on July 5 was a “complete failure”. The Taepodong-2 missile, one of seven missiles fired by North Korea into the Sea of Japan (East Sea), fell in waters off the North Korean coast, the Mainichi Shimbun said. Japan had originally estimated that the missile flew about 640 kilometers (398 miles) towards Japan, Yomiuri Shimbun said. The United States has told Japan that its satellite information indicated the Taepodong-2 exploded in mid-air within 1.5 kilometers of the launching pad, Kyodo News said, citing Japanese government sources. The Japan Defence Agency would file an analysis report as early as this week to say “the launch was a complete failure,” the Mainichi said.Washington and Tokyo have assessed that the first phase of the missile did not separate properly and debris was seen falling around the Musudanri missile base in northeastern North Korea, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) said. Of the remaining six missiles, four were are believed to have been short-range Scud ballistic missiles, with two mid-range Rodong ballistic missiles, Kyodo and Mainichi said. Since the latest North Korean missile tests, Japan has banned a major North Korean ferry link, visits by diplomats and charter flights. Japan’s reaction has been strongly criticised by South Korea, which is atempting to reconcile with its communist neighbor and remains bitter over Japan’s bloody colonial rule. North Korea tested a Taepodong-1 in 1998 that flew over Japan into the Pacific Ocean, stirring widespread jitters here. North Korea is widely reviled in Japan for kidnappings Japanese civilians during the 1970s to 1980s.