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North Korea missile launches raise tensions

South Korean defence officials said that North Korea had launched two
surface-to-ship missiles from a site on its west coast early on
Wednesday, a day after world leaders attending a nuclear security summit
in Seoul urged the regime to cancel the rocket launch and return to
six-party nuclear talks.North Korea insists that the forthcoming
launch, which is expected around 15 April to coincide with the centenary
of the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-sung, is designed to put
an observation satellite into orbit.The US, South Korea and Japan,
however, say it would be a violation of UN security council resolutions
banning North Korea from missile activity, as the same technology could
be developed for use in multistage missiles, including those capable of
hitting the US mainland.If the launch goes ahead it will
immediately kill off a deal, which was reached at the end of February,
in which the US agreed to provide 240,000 tonnes of food aid provided
that Pyongyang end its uranium enrichment programme and tests of
long-range and nuclear missiles.The prospect of a fourth North
Korean long-range missile launch since 1998 is causing disquiet across
the region, partly due to concerns that it will veer off course and
potentially dump debris on its neighbours' territory.On Friday
Indonesia's foreign minister Marty Natalegawa urged North Korea to
abandon the launch, saying it would "undermine peace and stability in
the region".The Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, said he was
concerned that debris may fall on his country's territory, calling the
planed launch a "needless provocation".Japan is concerned that the rocket may fly over the southern island chain of Okinawa and has ordered its self-defence forces to intercept the rocket or its fragments if they pose a threat.

an unusual show of transparency, Pyongyang has told the international
maritime organisation that the rocket will be launched between 7am and
noon from 12-16 April. The first stage of the Unha-3 rocket will come
down about 87 miles (140km) off the west coast of South Korea, while the
second will fly over a chain near the main Okinawa island before
falling into the sea east of the northern Philippines.Japan's
defence minister, Naoki Tanaka, said the odds of the rocket striking
Japan were low, but added: "We want to be fully prepared for the
possibility of rocket fragments falling on our territory."Japan
will deploy ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor
missiles in its south-west and Okinawa, and send three Aegis-equipped
destroyers carrying missile defence systems to the Japan Sea and East China Sea.Experts
doubt Japan has the ability to shoot down the rocket in mid-flight;
instead, the precautionary moves appear to be aimed at reassuring the
public that Tokyo is taking North Korea's latest provocation seriously.The
planned launch is causing particular alarm in Japan, which is already
within striking distance of North Korea's medium-range Rodong missiles.In
a report published on Friday, the national institute for defence
studies in Tokyo warned that North Korea's progress on nuclear
technology, coupled with recent regime change, had increased the risk of
conflict breaking out in the region.Satellite images taken
earlier this week show North Korea is making preparations for the
missile launch from its Tongchang-ri site, located about 35 miles from
the northern border with China. Expert analysis showed trucks and fuel
tanks outside two large buildings used to store propellant for the
rocket, although the rocket itself was not visible.

Added: Mar-30-2012 Occurred On: Mar-30-2012
By: Jhurst
World News
Tags: news
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