Friday, March 27, 2009

North Korean showdown on the high seas

Having passed through Seoul, North Korea was getting more than its share of press there. The South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo quoted a diplomatic source as saying North Korea could fire its Taepodong-2 missile by the weekend, earlier than the April 4-8 timeframe Pyongyang announced for what it says is the launch of a satellite.

North Korea has said it will launch a commercial satellite on top of a rocket but some governments fear the North Koreans will actually put a long-range missile on top of the rocket.

I am now in Japan where Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada announced he ordered the deployment of land-to-air and sea-to-air missile interceptors to the area at risk. The military will move some PAC-3 land-to-air missiles, currently deployed around Tokyo, to Japan's northern coast, and deploy a pair of destroyers carrying SM-3 sea-to-air missiles in nearby waters. Additionally a set of the PAC-3 missiles will be brought into central Tokyo to defend the nation's capital.

U.S. Navy ships capable of shooting down ballistic missiles are being moved to the Sea of Japan. The U.S. Navy just wrapped up military exercises with the South Korean military.

The planned missile launch by North Korea, seen by some countries as a disguised military exercise, is the first big test for US President Barack Obama in dealing with the prickly North Korea, whose efforts to build a nuclear arsenal have long plagued ties with Washington. North Korea warned that any action by the UN Security Council to punish it would be a “hostile act”.

No comments: