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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Taiwan to test-fire missile: report

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan plans to test-fire a missile capable of hitting China, alarming the island's main ally, the United States, a cable news network said on Thursday.

The Hsiung Feng III, developed by Taiwan's Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, has a range of 600 km (360 miles) and is accurate to within half a meter, the online edition of cable news network ETTV (http://www.ettoday.com) said, quoting unnamed military sources.

That range would put areas along China's coast from Fuzhou in Fujian Province to Nan'ao in Guangdong within striking distance of the missile, the Web site said.

A defense ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report when reached by telephone. A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry also declined to comment.

China, which has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since their split in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war, has deployed nearly 800 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at the self-ruled island in case it formally declares independence.

Taiwan successfully test-fired the missile last year, local media have reported, and the Web site said the next test was planned for September.

The United States, which recognizes Beijing's "one China" policy but is Taiwan's major supplier of arms, had expressed its concern to the Taiwan government, the Web site said.

North Korea acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that it had launched several missiles, vowed to carry out more tests and threatened to use force if the international community tried to stop it.
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