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Bush Says Missile Defense System Had Chance Against Taepodong-2

US President George W. Bush in the Oval Office, White House. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Chicago (AFP) Jul 07, 2006
President George W. Bush said the US missile defense system is modest but had a "reasonable chance" of shooting down a long-range North Korean missile fired at the United States. "Yeah, I think we had a reasonable chance of shooting it down. At least that's what the military commanders told me," Bush said at a news conference.

US interceptor missiles were on alert but not used during North Korea's launch this week of a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which failed early in flight.

"Our anti-ballistic systems are modest, they're new, they're new research, we're testing them. And so ... it's hard for me to give you a probability of success," he said.

"But nevertheless, the fact that a nontransparent society would be willing to tee up a rocket and fire it without identifying where it was going or what was on it means we need a ballistic missile system," he said.

North Korea Has One More Taepodong-2 To Fire Says South Korea

North Korea has a second long-range Taepodong-2 missile to test but there are no signs that a launch is imminent, South Korea's defense minister said Friday.

North Korea on Wednesday for the first time test-fired a Taepodong-2, which is believed to be able to hit the fringes of the United States, but quickly crashed into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

"At the outset, two sets of Taepodong-2 were transported from a place near Pyongyang. One of them was already launched, and the other was not," Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-Ung told Yonhap news agency.

He later told reporters that the second Taepodong-2 appeared to have been sent to North Korea's remote missile base at Musudanri in northeastern Hwadae county where the first missile was launched Wednesday.

But another long-range missile launch is not imminent because the second Taepodong-2 has not been seen at the launching site, he said.

"If its first launch is a failure, North Korea will have to find out the reason," Yoon said.

South Korean opposition lawmaker Chung Hyung-Keun on Thursday quoted the intelligence agency as saying North Korea was repairing technical flaws that doomed the first Taepodong-2 before launching another.

US officials, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, discounted the possibility of an imminent second launch by the self-declared nuclear power.

"Just look at the process. You have to get it out there, you have to get it up, you have to match it, you've got to fuel it. We're looking at a minimum of days, if not weeks," said a US defense official.

"There's no indications of preparations of a second launch," he said.

North Korea on Thursday hailed its launches -- which also included six short- or medium-range missiles -- as a success and pledged to fire more, saying it was boosting its defenses in the face of US hostility.

US President George W. Bush described the communist regime in 2002 as part of an "axis of evil" with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the Islamic republic of Iran.

NKorean long-range missile aimed toward Hawaii: reports

The Taepodong-2 long-range missile fired by North Korea this week appears to have been aimed toward waters near Hawaii, Japanese media reported Friday.

Japan's Defense Agency and the US military analyzed the course of the missile with data collected by an Aegis destroyer and a spy plane and made the conclusion based on its angle and altitude reached, the Sankei Shimbun said.

Japanese government sources believe Pyongyang was trying to show that the United States was in range of the missile, the daily said.

The Kyodo News agency quoted a Japanese government source as saying: "It was probably targeted toward the direction of Hawaii."

North Korea ended a self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile tests Wednesday by launching a Taepodong-2 along with six shorter-range missiles.

The Taepodong-2 splashed down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) after about 42 seconds in an apparent failure, though the North declared the tests a success.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Saturday's arrival in Japan of a high-tech US guided-missile destroyer had been planned for months and was not a reaction to North Korea's recent missile tests, a US Navy spokesman said Saturday.

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