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Japan Deploys Interceptors Ahead Of N. Korea Rocket Launch

Japan on Monday completed deployment of interceptor missiles to shoot down the North Korean rocket if it violated the country's air space, the Defense Ministry said.

Japan's Self-Defense Force (SDF) has installed ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors on Okinawa, Ishigaki and Miyako islands and in Tokyo ahead of the North's plan to launch a rocket to put a satellite into orbit between April 12 and 16. It has also sent Aegis destroyers to the East China Sea to deal with any situation.

The launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite using a long-range rocket from the country's northwest has raised strong fears and unease in Japan and South Korea which allege that the rocket launch was aimed at testing the Communist State's ballistic missile technology.

"I am certain that the launch would be a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions," Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said and called for action against the nuclear-armed country.

An official from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters at a briefing earlier in the day that Seoul and the United States "are keeping close tabs on movements" related to what the official called the North's "long-range missile launch." The South Korean military was "fully prepared" to respond to any acts of provocation. media reports quoted him as saying.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman while answering questions from the country's official KCNA news agency, said on Friday last that his country would not give up the planned launch which, he said, was a "legitimate right of a sovereign state and requirement essential for its economic development."

North Korea had invited a group of some 70 foreign journalists to visit the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the country's northwest and take a look at the 30-meter high Unha-3 rocket that will carry the Kwangmyongsong-3 into space.

"It is a carrier rocket but not a ballistic missile," Jang Myung Jin, who is in charge of the station, told reporters. He said the launch was a peaceful program aimed at developing the country's economy and raising the people's living standard.

China has expressed concern over the development and called on all parties concerned to take a broad and long-term perspective, remain calm and exercise restraint, and seek proper solutions to the relevant issues through diplomatic channels and by peaceful means.

by RTT Staff Writer

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