Japan prepares to intercept North Korean missile debris

March 27th, 2009 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, March 27 (DPA) Japan Friday readied its defence for North Korea’s planned rocket launch, ordering its military to destroy any fragments that might fall on its territory if the launch goes wrong.
Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada’s orders came after the nation’s Security Council met earlier in the day as North Korea prepares what it says is a satellite launch between April 4 and 8, Japanese media reported.

However, North Korea’s neighbours and the US believe the true purpose is a test of Pyongyang’s long-range Taepodong-2 ballistic missile.

Japan is readying its four Patriot-guided missile fire units for air defence in the north while it may deploy two Aegis destroyers with interceptors in the Sea of Japan.

“It’s important to deal with and eliminate the North Korean projectile should it threaten the people’s security and safety by falling into our airspace, waters or soil,” the Japanese defence minister said.

A government spokesman called on the public to stay calm but cautious on any media information on fallen debris as the government is concerned debris might land in the north-east of the country.

North Korea informed international agencies of the rocket’s planned trajectory, which would take it over Japan.

Pyongyang Wednesday threatened its immediate pull-out from international talks on ending its nuclear weapons programme, should the UN impose more sanctions in reaction to the launch.

South Korea and the US say the launch would violate a 2006 UN Security Council resolution.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned North Korea there would be consequences if the Stalinist state went ahead with a planned long-range missile launch.

A launch would be regarded as a “provocative act” that would not go unnoticed, she added.

This is the first time Japan is preparing to counter the threats posed by a ballistic missile or similar object since the country began building a ballistic missile shield in 2003, the Kyodo News Agency said.

North Korea launched a Taepodong-1 missile in August 1998, part of which crossed over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. The launch accelerated Japanese moves to build a missile shield based on US concepts.

The shield sports sea-launched SM-3 missiles are to intercept a warhead outside the earth’s atmosphere. If they miss, a ground-launched Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile will intercept the payload as it re-enters the atmosphere.

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