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Ready to Act, Just in Case: US Northern Command officials say they had eyes on the missiles launched July 4 by North Korea and that ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California were poised to take out the long-range Taepo Dong 2 if it hadn’t fizzled seconds after launch. A NORTHCOM statement said the command was “able to determine quickly that the launch posed no threat to the United States or its territories.” Officials had earlier acknowledged that Pyongyang has launched seven missiles—six on Tuesday and one on Wednesday—even after widespread international condemnation of Tuesday’s show by Kim Jong-Il’s communist regime. Speaking with reporters Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he’d been notified “probably within a minute” of the actual launches.