Japan, South Korea Warn North's Launch Will Have Consequences
By Kurt Achin
13 March 2009
Japan and South Korea say they will seek high-level action at the United Nations to punish North Korea if it proceeds with its announced long-range rocket launch.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says North Korea will be breaking international law if it launches a long-range rocket - regardless of what is on board.
He says any North Korean launch, whether it is a missile or a satellite, will be brought to the United Nations Security Council for a possible response.
North Korea informed international agencies Thursday of launch coordinates for when Pyongyang says it will put a "communications satellite" into space sometime between April 4 and 8.
Leaders in South Korea, the United States, and Japan suspect the real motive for the launch is to test a long-range missile. They say any launch will violate a United Nations resolution imposed in 2006, after North Korea conducted long range missile and nuclear weapons tests within months of each other.
U.N. agencies have advised aircraft and sea vessels of two "danger zones" in waters northeast of North Korea, where stages of the rocket will fall at high speeds back to earth.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura says his country is ready to defend itself if the missile comes too close.
He says Japanese law and national security policy permit the shooting down of any object that looks like it might land on Japanese territory.
The United States has two Aegis naval Destroyers docked in South Korea for annual joint exercises with the South's forces scheduled to end next week. Choi Kee-dong, the Korean-American commander of the USS Chafee, says ships like his are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles. He says he will execute whatever course of action U.S. policymakers decide upon.
"The U.S. Navy is always prepared to respond in a crisis, and we will do our utmost to make sure that we carry out our mission," he said.
North Korea says it will consider any attempt to shoot down its missile an act of war.
Pyongyang protested the South's annual military cooperation with the United States Friday by sealing its border to the South for the second time this week. Hundreds of South Koreans were stranded at a joint industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong. Hundreds of other South Koreans were unable to complete travel plans to Kaesong as scheduled.
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