US NORTHERN COMMAND is confirming North Korea did test fire 6 missiles. U.S. officials said all, but one of the missiles were short range and landed in the Sea of Japan. The long-range missile failed less than a minute after it was launched. Analysts have long feared a missile like that could travel as far as the western part of the U.S.
They detected all 6 missiles and they quickly determined they posed no threat to the U.S. But, NORTHCOM says if there had been a threat, they have missile interceptors in Alaska and California.
The White House has released a statement calling North Korea's actions a provocative act, but saying there was no immediate threat. White House officials have not commented on camera Tuesday night.
But just last Thursday, President Bush publicly warned North Korea not to test-fire a long range missile. "The leader of North Korea has a choice. Does he want to be isolated from the world or is he interested in being an active participant in the kind of nation of the world who care about their people and desire peace," President Bush said.
Also no comment Tuesday night from USNORTHCOM, but they have long been preparing their reaction to a situation like Tuesday’s. Just two months ago, I was able to witness a training exercise in person where NORTHCOM commanders mapped out their responses in real-time to a potential terrorist attack. Though that was a different scenario, commanders said at the time it helps to refine and evaluate their readiness for any emergency.
Tuesday afternoon, NORTHCOM satellites detected the launch of the missiles. Had those missiles posed a threat to the U.S, NORTHCOM would take the primary responsibility in defending the nation.
11 News confirmed Monday night, NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain has been on heightened alert because of the situation with North Korea. A state department official says these launches were timed to coincide with the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery.