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Thursday July 6, 2006
A professed nuclear-armed state launches an intercontinental missile and six other rockets in defiance of almost the entire international community. Is it a prelude for war, a bargaining tactic or a warning?

In the long run North Korea's test firing may prove to be one or all of the above, but in the short term it can be understood as a cry for attention.

Kim Jong-il has a record of provocations to raise the profile of his otherwise small, poor and diplomatically isolated nation.

Yesterday's launches can be put alongside the test firing of a missile over Japan in 1998, Pyongyang's withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 2003 or its 2005 declaration - still unproven by tests - that it had a nuclear deterrent.

Each time Mr Kim won concessions: the visit by the US secretary of state Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang in 2000, six-party talks from 2003, and Washington's declaration last year that it was not focused on regime change in Pyongyang. Source.

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N. Korea may have overplayed its hand