Sabtu, 07 April 2012

Items of interest on the pending rocket launch by North Korea

SDF, U.S. ships deployed for North's rocket

Three Japanese destroyers head to East China Sea to intercept debris

Three Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers departed for the East China Sea Saturday ahead of a planned rocket launch by North Korea.

The Kirishima and the Chokai, equipped with sea-based interceptor missiles and Aegis combat systems, left the Sasebo naval base in Nagasaki Prefecture, while the Myoko left Maizuru base in Kyoto Prefecture to shoot down the rocket if it begins falling over Japanese territory.
Meanwhile, an Aegis-equipped ship from the U.S. Navy left the Sasebo base later Saturday.
To brace for the planned launch, ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors will also be deployed at four locations in Okinawa Prefecture, including Miyako and Ishigaki islands in the East China Sea.
PAC-3 antimissile batteries were also deployed Saturday at Self-Defense Forces bases and training areas in the Tokyo metropolitan area, specifically in the capital's Ichigaya district, Narashino in Chiba Prefecture, and Asaka in Saitama Prefecture.
The moves come in the wake of North Korea's announcement in March that it will launch an "Earth observation satellite" to mark the April 15 centennial of founding father Kim Il Sung's birth.
Japan and many other nations, however, believe the launch is actually a long-range ballistic missile test in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Pyongyang's planned launch was high on the agenda during talks Saturday in Ningbo, China, between the Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and his South Korean counterpart.
Genba and Kim Sung Hwan discussed the potential response by Japan and South Korea if Pyongyang goes ahead with the launch, Japanese officials said.
Genba and Kim reaffirmed they will coordinate policy in dealing with North Korea under its new leader, Kim Jong Un, especially at a time when the threatened rocket launch has escalated tensions in the region, according to the officials.
The talks came ahead of a trilateral meeting Sunday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Ningbo, at which the three countries are likely to urge North Korea to scrub the launch.

North's planned rocket launch pits Japan, South Korea against China

BEIJING — Rising tensions over North Korea's planned rocket launch next week are expected to dominate the agenda when Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba meets with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts Sunday in China.
Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul likely will agree to continue calling on Pyongyang to show restraint up to the very last minute, but will also discuss coordination with other countries if the launch goes ahead.
They remain cautious about stronger action, however, mindful that when the U.N. Security Council condemned a 2009 rocket launch by the North, it responded by conducting a nuclear test and pulling out of six-nation talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
To complicate matters further, some analysts are speculating that Japan and South Korea could find themselves at odds with China — a major benefactor of North Korea — over how to deal with the rocket launch, given Beijing's previous reluctance to condemn Pyongyang at the Security Council.
North Korea appears determined to proceed with the launch of what it claims is an earth observation satellite between April 12 and 16.
During the trilateral talks Sunday in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo, Genba and South Korea's foreign minister, Kim Sung Hwan, are expected to urge China to increase its efforts to prevent the launch.
Following a March 29 meeting in Beijing with Wu Dawei, China's representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, Shinsuke Sugiyama, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, said Japan will keep strongly urging North Korea to exercise self-restraint.
He also called on China to take similar action.
But Sugiyama declined to say whether Beijing views Pyongyang's rocket launch as violating Security Council resolutions slapped on the North, including Resolution 1874 that bans Pyongyang from conducting any launch using ballistic missile technology.
Chinese analysts say that while Beijing is aware the launch would violate Resolution 1874, it will not condemn it in public to avoid provoking Pyongyang.
"China believes that if North Korea launches a satellite for whatever reason, it is in violation of Security Council Resolution 1874," said Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing.
"We have worries and concerns," Shi said in a recent interview.
"But we are not in the same position as the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia, who can publicly declare that North Korea is in violation of the resolution," Shi said.
Citing "warmer ties" between China and North Korea since 2009 and Beijing's desire to maintain stability in its neighbor, Shi voiced doubts that China would agree to condemn the launch or tighten sanctions on Pyongyang if the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries referred the case to the Security Council.
China's influence over the North is limited in any event, experts say, especially over the rocket launch.
The move is intended as a demonstration of North Korea's strength and scientific progress, as well as a celebration to mark the centennial of state founder Kim Il Sung's birth and the new regime of Kim Jong Un.
North Korea claims the planned satellite launch is for the peaceful development and use of space, arguing that is a legitimate and universally recognized right of every sovereign state.
But Tokyo, Washington and Seoul suspect this is just cover to test long-range ballistic missile technologies.
Military experts say similar technologies can be applied to ICBMs to provide a delivery system for a nuclear weapon, should the North ever manage to produce nuclear warheads.
"Kim Jong Un has domestic factors (to consider). You have to understand that," Shi said. "Otherwise it is difficult to interpret what happened in just two weeks" between a deal the North struck with the United States in late February and its announcement of a rocket launch.
Washington argues the launch will jeopardize the deal, under which Pyongyang would implement a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and uranium enrichment in exchange for 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid.
The Choson Sinbo newspaper, printed by the pro-North General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), suggested Wednesday that Pyongyang may even carry out a third nuclear test depending on the international community's response to the planned rocket launch.

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