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Japan warns N. Korea on missile launch

By Choe Sang-Hun
International Herald Tribune / March 14, 2009
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SEOUL - Japan yesterday condemned North Korea's plan to launch a rocket, warning that it was legally entitled to shoot down any threatening object that falls toward its territory.

North Korea told global agencies this past week that it would put a communications satellite into orbit between April 4 and April 8, using a rocket that will fly over Japan and the Pacific.

The announcement unsettled neighboring countries that consider the launching a cover for testing the North's Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile.

Washington, Seoul, and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations urged Pyongyang on Thursday to cancel its plans.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan said: "They can call it a satellite or whatever, but it would be a violation" of a UN resolution.

In 2006, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution banning Pyongyang from nuclear tests and ballistic missile activities after the Communist state detonated its first nuclear device.

"Under our law, we can intercept any object if it is falling towards Japan, including any attacks on Japan, for our safety," the Japanese government's chief spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, said yesterday.

If the North Korean rocket launching is successful, it will not fall toward Japan but fly over it.

North Korea has said that it would consider any attempt to intercept its rocket "an act of war" and that it would attack the interceptors.

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