Japan ready to intercept Nork missile

NY Times:

Japan authorized its military Friday to destroy any debris from a North Korean rocket that might fall on its territory. North Korea has said it intends to put a satellite into orbit as early as next week, and warned that fragments could fall into waters off northern Japan.

Japan, South Korea and the United States suspect the launch is a cover for a long-range missile test. In response, Tokyo will deploy missile interceptors and dispatch two warships to the waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said.

A battery of Patriot land-to-air missiles will also be deployed in Tokyo, he said. “Whether it’s a satellite or a missile, we are extremely uncomfortable with the object flying over Japanese territory,” Mr. Hamada said. “It’s natural for Japan to seek to eliminate any threat.”

The government spokesman, Takeo Kawamura, called for calm on Friday, saying it was unlikely that debris would fall on Japan.

“We need everyone to continue with their daily lives as usual,” Mr. Kawamura said.

Tension mounted this week after reports that a rocket is being prepared for launch at a pad near North Korea’s northeastern coast. Pyongyang has announced that a test would be conducted between April 4 and 8.

A United Nations Security Council resolution bars North Korea from testing missiles and nuclear devices. Japan, among other nations, imposed tight trade sanctions on North Korea in 2006 after it test-fired a missile and conducted a nuclear test. The United States, Japan and its allies have also demanded the North cancel the launch, and have threatened stricter international sanctions. Even a satellite launch would violate a United Nations Security Council resolution prohibiting ballistic activity, they say.

Also on Friday, Russia joined the chorus of nations condemning the upcoming launch.

The Obama administration has been unusually outspoken in condemning the test. All of this is unlikely to effect the North Korean test. The purpose of the test probably has more to do with the Norks pique at having aid shipments reduced as it does any legitimate testing of missiles or satellites.

The Washington Post story suggest the Norks are trying to keep people guessing about its nuclear ambitions and how they mate with its missile tests.


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