Japan to Move Patriot Missile Systems in Response to N Korea Rocket Launch
15:02 04.02.2016(updated 15:28 04.02.2016)
Japan began redeploying its Patriot missile systems to the southernmost archipelago of Sakishima from the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) in Hiroshima to prepare for North Korea's announced satellite launch, Japanese media reported Thursday.
TOKYO (Sputnik) – An MSDF transport vessel has left the Kure base loaded with PAC-3 surface-to-air missile launchers in response to Pyongyang's stated aim to launch a satellite sometime this month, the NHK broadcaster said.
It is planned that the upgraded systems, which have anti-ballistic missile capabilities, are to be deployed near the 'expected flight path of what is widely believed to be a ballistic missile,' the broadcaster specified.
Japanese media cited government officials as saying last week that North Korea was preparing a missile launch.
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said, on Tuesday, that the PAC-3s were deployed near Tokyo and at the Asaka and Narashino military bases.
Tensions surrounding North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs heightened on January 6, when Pyongyang announced that it had successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test, triggering a wave of condemnation from the international community.
North Korea has notified the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of its plan to launch a satellite between February 8 and February 25.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Seoul would view any satellite launches by Pyongyang as a ballistic missile test.
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