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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

S.Korea Deploys Warships to Track N.Korea Rocket Launch

RIA Novosti

20:17 08/12/2012

TOKYO, December 8 (RIA Novosti) - South Korea has deployed two King Sejong the Great class Aegis destroyers in the Yellow Sea with one more to be sent there shortly in anticipation of an imminent North Korean rocket launch, the Yonhap news agency reported on Saturday.

The warships equipped with the SPY-1D multi-function radar antennae will be used to track the exact trajectory of the North Korean rocket if it is fired and pinpoint the location of where the first stage main booster rocket falls to sea, South Korea's military said.

They will also be tasked with detecting the impact point of the fairing that makes up the tip of the launch vehicle.

In addition, the Air Force will deploy two E-737 Peace Eye Airborne Early Warning and Control planes to coordinate the tracking effort.

North Korea already issued a 'notice to airmen' bulletin saying that the first stage of the rocket will fall 140 kilometers west of Buan while the fairing may hit waters 88 kilometers west of Jeju Island.

Earlier in the day Tokyo dispatched four MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air (SAM) missiles to Japan's southern border, while another three were placed near the capital. The systems are aimed at blasting away possible rocket debris, or otherwise warding off any other threat to Japanese territory.

Pyongyang angered the international community after its December 1 announcement that it would attempt another rocket launch, the country's second this year.

While North Korean authorities have claimed the rocket will attempt to send a satellite into outer space, the international community has condemned what it believes to be the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program meant to ferry nuclear warheads.

South Korean media reports, quoting unnamed sources in Seoul, have indicated that North Korean technicians have already mounted the rocket on its launch pad. The launch window will remain open until December 22.

A previous attempted launch of a North Korean rocket last April ended in failure after the rocket exploded shortly after lift-off.

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