Wire: Japan OKs Deployment of Missile Defense System
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2009 -- Newswire services reported today that Japan's military mobilized Friday to protect the country from any threat if North Korea's looming rocket launch fails, ordering two missile-equipped destroyers to the Sea of Japan and sending batteries of Patriot missile interceptors to protect the northern coastline.
The Associated Press reported that Pyongyang plans to launch its Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite April 4-8, a moved that has stoked already heightened tensions in the region. The U.S., Japan and South Korea suspect the North will use the launch to test the delivery technology for a long-range missile capable of striking Alaska.
From the AP story:
Japan has said that it will shoot down any dangerous objects that fall its way if the launch doesn't go off successfully. Tokyo, however, has been careful to say that it will not intervene unless its territory is in danger.AP also reported that the U.S. and South Korea warned Thursday it would be a major provocation with serious consequences, and Japan's parliament was expected to issue a resolution next week demanding the launch be scrapped.
The North said earlier this month that any attack on the satellite would be an act of war.
South Korea and the U.S. prepared deployments of their own. Seoul is also dispatching an Aegis-equipped Sejong the Great destroyer off the east coast to monitor the launch, a military official in Seoul said. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Two U.S. Aegis-equipped ships, docked at a South Korea port, will set sail in coming days, U.S. military spokesman Kim Yong-kyu said.
As Japan's military got its orders Friday, North Korea's preparations appeared to be moving ahead quickly, and South Korea's nuclear envoy headed to Washington as regional powers scrambled to coordinate a joint strategy for the launch.
North Korea mounted a rocket on a launch pad on its northeast coast, American intelligence officials say, putting Pyongyang well on track for the launch.
North Korea is now "technically" capable of launching it in three to four days, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing an unnamed diplomatic official.
Regional powers have said any launch is banned under a 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution and would trigger sanctions.
(Report from a commercial news source.)
Source: Japan OKs deployment of missile defense system
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