Japan deploys war ships ahead of North Korean rocket launch

March 29th, 2009 - 5:24 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 29 (IANS) Japan has deployed three guided missile destroyers with orders to shoot down any debris from a North Korean rocket which might stray into Japanese airspace, a media report said.
The US, Japan and South Korea meanwhile agreed that any launch would be immediately brought up in the UN Security Council, the Voice of America reported Saturday.

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

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 defences Friday while news reports said the US Navy was moving ships with anti-missile capabilities - the Aegis system - to waters around Japan.

Japan’s defence 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 Defence 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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