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N.Korea test-fires at least three missiles, one of them a long-range weapon that the U.S. has been monitoring, U.S. sources say.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- North Korea launched a long-range Taepodong-2 missile early Wednesday in an apparently unsuccessful test that failed in flight, a senior State Department official said.

North Korea also tested at least two smaller missiles, U.S. sources told CNN.

Both missiles were launched from a site other than the one intelligence officials have watched for weeks ahead of the long-range missile test, a senior State Department official said.

The United States, Japan and other countries have warned North Korea against a long-range missile test, saying such a move would be considered a provocation.

Washington and North Korea's Asian neighbors -- South Korea, China, Russia and Japan -- have been trying to persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program since 2002, but those talks have stalled in recent months.

President Bush warned last week that the isolated Stalinist state would face even further isolation if it launched the Taepodong-2, which U.S. analysts fear is capable of reaching the western United States. (Full story)

"The North Koreans have made agreements with us in the past, and we expect them to keep their agreements," Bush said last month at the end of a European Union summit.

"It should make people nervous when nontransparent regimes, that have announced that they've got nuclear warheads, fire missiles," Bush said. "This is not the way you conduct business in the world. This is not the way that peaceful nations conduct their affairs."

The senior State Department official said the launches were timed to coincide with the launch of the space shuttle Discovery from Florida, calling it "a provocative act designed to get attention."

The North Koreans fired a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan in 1998, but declared a moratorium on future tests in 1999.

Two senior State Department officials said Tuesday that fuel trucks had departed the site where the Taepodong-2 sat on a launch paid, indicating that a test may have been near.

On Monday, Pyongyang's state-run media carried a report accusing the United States of harassing North Korea and vowing to respond to any pre-emptive attack "with a relentless annihilating strike and a nuclear war with a mighty nuclear deterrent." (Watch why North Korea is talking about annihilating the U.S. -- 2:04)

The White House has dismissed that threat as "hypothetical." (Full story)

Meanwhile, the Pentagon took steps to be ready for a possible military response to a North Korean missile launch.

The U.S. Northern Command recently increased security measures at its Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a military official confirmed.

In other planning measures instituted in the past several days, Northern Command, along with the Federal Aviation Administration, has put standby commercial flight restrictions into place over Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Fort Greely, Alaska, where the U.S. interceptor missiles are based.





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