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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Japan Deploys Ships Ahead of North Korean Rocket Launch

By VOA News
28 March 2009

Japan deployed three guided missile destroyers Saturday with orders to shoot down any debris from a North Korean rocket that might stray into Japanese airspace.

Meanwhile, the United States, Japan and South Korea have agreed that any launch would be immediately brought up in the United Nations Security Council.

The three countries have all said North Korea is using the planned launch to test its ballistic missile capability in violation of U.N. resolutions. North Korea says it intends to launch a communications satellite between April 4 and April 8.

Japan deployed two warships to the Sea of Japan, which separates Japan from North Korea. The ships have radar and weapons systems designed to shoot down enemy missiles, the Aegis system.

A third Japanese destroyer was deployed to the Pacific Ocean where the North Korean rocket is expected to return to earth.

Japan also began deploying land based anti-missile defenses Friday while news reports said the U.S. Navy was moving ships with anti-missile capabilities - the Aegis system - to waters around Japan.

Japan's defense minister, Yasukazu Hamada, said his government has ordered its military to shoot down dangerous debris that might fall on Japanese territory during the launch.

Officials also say Japan is moving several (PAC-3) Patriot land-to-air missiles to its northern coast.

An international intelligence publication, Jane's Defense Weekly, said Friday that satellite imagery shows North Korea is nearing the final phases of preparing for its rocket launch. It said recent activity at the launch site suggests the mission is on or even ahead of schedule.

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