Ja­pan mil­i­tary on alert for pos­si­ble North Korea mis­sile launch


TOKYO/SEOUL: Ja­pan put its mil­i­tary on alert on Mon­day for a pos­si­ble North Korean bal­lis­tic mis­sile fir­ing, while South Korea also said it had de­tected ev­i­dence of launch prepa­ra­tions, of­fi­cials from Ja­pan and South Korea said.

Ten­sion in the re­gion has been high since North Korea con­ducted its fourth nu­clear test in Jan­uary and fol­lowed that with a satel­lite launch and test launches of var­i­ous mis­siles.

Ja­pan ordered naval de­stroy­ers and anti-bal­lis­tic mis­sile Pa­triot bat­ter­ies to be ready to shoot down any pro­jec­tile head­ing for Ja­pan, Ja­pan’s NHK state broad­caster said.

A Pa­triot mis­sile bat­tery on the grounds of Ja­pan’s Min­istry of De­fense had its mis­sile tubes el­e­vated to a fir­ing po­si­tion. The South Korean de­fense of­fi­cial de­clined to com­ment on what type of mis­sile might be launched but South Korea’s Yon­hap News Agency said of­fi­cials be­lieve it would be an in­ter­me­di­at­erange Musu­dan mis­sile.

“We’ve de­tected a sign and are track­ing that. We are fully pre­pared,” said the South Korean of­fi­cial, who also de­clined to be iden­ti­fied.

North Korea tried un­suc­cess­fully to test launch the Musu­dan three times in April, ac­cord­ing to US and South Korean of­fi­cials.

Ja­pan has put its anti-bal­lis­tic mis­sile forces on alert at least twice this year af­ter de­tect­ing signs of launches by North Korea.

North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile tests this year trig­gered new UN sanc­tions but it seems de­ter­mined to press ahead with its weapons pro­grams, de­spite the sanc­tions and the dis­ap­proval of its sole main ally, China.

Last Fri­day, lead­ers of the Group of Seven in­dus­tri­al­ized na­tions, in­clud­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, met in Ja­pan and de­manded that North Korea com­ply with a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to stop all nu­clear and mis­sile tests and re­frain from provoca­tive ac­tion.

WEAPONS OF DE­STRUC­TION: A mock Scud-B mis­sile of North Korea and other South Korean mock mis­siles are dis­played at the Korea War Memo­rial Mu­seum in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)

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