Japanese and South Korean officials say the have detected signs that North Korea is possibly planning for a ballistic missile launch
VOA News reports: Japanese broadcaster NHK said the government has put its military on alert for a possible launch. Japan has also ordered its naval destroyers to shoot down any projectiles that threaten its territory. A South Korean defense official said Seoul is maintaining 'combat readiness.'
Security officials of the two countries did not state the type of the missile explicitly, but reported that it is likely to be an intermediate-range Musudan missile, similar to one the North unsuccessfully tried to test launch three times in April.
Japan has put its anti-ballistic missile forces on alert at least twice this year after detecting signs of launches by North Korea. South Korean officials admit that indications of a launch had been detected would point to a medium-range missile or larger.
According to the reports, the missile has a range of some 3.000-4.000 kilometers; that means if the launch succeeds, the projectile might reach targets in Japan, China and Guam. However, the missile has never been successfully flight-tested.
The United Nations Security Council has issued resolutions, prohibiting North Korea from developing nuclear and ballistic missile technology. China, the North's key ally, has pushed the administration of President Kim Jong Un to return to international negotiations and dismantle its nuclear program for economic assistance and security guarantees. However, that has not stopped them from doing so several times this year.
A Pentagon spokesman, US Navy Commander Gary Ross, said: "We are closely monitoring the situation on the Korean Peninsula in coordination with our regional allies. We urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments."
By Stefan Paraber for GIA.