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White House: Administration will not allow Pyongyang’s missile test firing to become a U.S.-North Korea issue

The White House said Wednesday that North Korea’s missile tests were a rebuff of international demands to stop its nuclear weapons program and does not reflect a standoff between Washington and Pyongyang.

“This is not a U.S.-North Korea matter and we’re not going to let the leader of North Korea transform it into that,” White House press secretary Tony Snow said.

He said North Korea may test fire a few more short- to medium-range missiles on top of the seven already fired, “but honestly we don’t know what to expect.”

The United States and Japan asked the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency session Wednesday.

“I’m not going to share proposals,” Snow said. “There will be something forthcoming, and it will not be simply a U.S. proposal, but it will be reflective of the five other parties in the six party talks. Absolutely.”

There is a high degree uncertainty within the administration about the situation.

“It’s very difficult to ascertain precisely what’s going on,” Snow said.

He said that President Bush on Wednesday morning attended a National Security Council meeting, but that it was focused on Cuba, not North Korea. The missile issue was covered in the president’s intelligence briefing, he indicated.

Snow said the U.S. Northern Command, responsible for defending U.S. territory, has concluded with a high degree of confidence that North Korea’s test of the long-range Taepodong-2, believed capable of reaching American soil, failed within a minute after liftoff, and was not aborted.