But, apparently, not the one that was being monitored:
TOKYO -North Korea test-launched two missiles Wednesday that landed in the Sea of Japan, but a Pentagon official said they were Scud missiles and not the longer-range variety that has been the focus of international concern.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency said they were believed to be mid-range Rodong missiles.
The reclusive communist state launched the first missile at 3:32 a.m., or 2:32 p.m. Tuesday EDT, and it crashed into the Sea of Japan several minutes later, public broadcaster NHK reported. Kyodo carried a similar report and quoted a government official as saying a second missile had also been fired.
A Pentagon official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said there were launches of two Scud missiles.
“The launch appears not to be the launch that has been in the news. This appears to be a launch of a lesser variety of scud missiles,” the official said.
Han Song Ryol, deputy chief of North Korea’s mission to the U.N. in New York, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview: “We diplomats do not know what the military is doing.”
The reported launch came after weeks of speculation that the North was preparing to test its advanced Taepodong 2 missile from a site on its northeast coast. Experts believe a Taepodong 2 could reach the United States with a light payload.
North Korea continues to demand attention.
Happy Fourth of July!
UPDATE: Varifrank has a wonderful reaction to this news in the form of a hypothetical letter from our ambassador to South Korea to Kim Jong-Il.
ABC News is now saying that five missiles were launched: one long-range Taepodong-2 and a number of shorter range SCUD-type missiles:
North Korea launched six missiles today, including one believed to be the long-range Taepodong-2, which is believed to be capable of reaching U.S. soil, U.S. government officials said.
The Bush administration called the missile launches “a clear provocation,” but said there was no immediate threat to the United States.
The launches today put North Korea in violation of a moratorium on missile testing it signed in 1999.
The first two missiles launched appeared to be short-range missiles — a Scud and a Nodong — and both fell into the Sea of Japan. The third — which broke up less than a minute after it launched — was the longer range missile, sources said. After that, the North Koreans launched more short-range missiles. With its Scuds, North Korea could only hit targets in South Korea, but the Nodong, which has a range of more than 600 miles, could hit Japan.
Why would they launch a flurry? Headlines? Is it possible that they were experimenting with launching a long-range along with a number of shorter range as a potential means of eluding anti-missile measures during the easier-to-knock-down early portion of the launch? Ideas?