News24

Japan prepares to intercept N Korea rocket

2012-03-30 09:01

Tokyo - Tokyo on Friday ordered its military to destroy a rocket expected to be launched by North Korea in mid-April if it enters Japanese airspace.

Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka issued the order soon after a security council meeting led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Tanaka told the military on Tuesday to prepare for the operation. A Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air missile system has been deployed to islands in Okinawa, south-west of Japan's main island.

Three Aegis destroyer ships have also been sent to the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan, the ministry said.

Pyongyang said it planned to launch an observation satellite, the Kwangmyongsong-3, borne by the Unha-3 rocket, to mark the centenary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung, on April 15.

Japan, the United States and other countries have condemned the planned launch, voicing concerns it could be used to test ballistic missile technology in violation of UN resolutions.

North Korea earlier on Friday launched two short-range surface-to-ship missiles off its west coast, possibly in response to the recent deployment of more warships by South Korea and the United States in the Yellow Sea, a senior military official told South Korea's KBS broadcaster.