South Korea won’t hesitate to shoot down a North Korean rocket or its debris if necessary, the Defense Ministry said Thursday, amid clear signs that the secretive neighbor’s rocket launch is imminent.
North Korea informed U.N. agencies of its plan to send a satellite into orbit between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25, which is viewed as a cover for a long-range missile test.
Meanwhile in Moscow, Russia urged North Korea to avoid escalating tensions with an announced rocket launch, expressing “grave concern” over the plan.
Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, citing unnamed officials, also reported similar news about activity at Dongchangri, and added that a mobile launcher carrying a ballistic missile had also been seen moving near the east coast.
The UN has passed a series of resolutions banning North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technologies.
“In the present situation, we hope North Korea exercises restraint on the issue of launching satellites, acts cautiously and does not take any escalatory steps that may further raise tensions on the Korean peninsula”.
Beijing has been reluctant to support harsh sanctions and has called on all sides to resume global negotiations to work out a deal to dismantle the North’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic assistance and security guarantees.
Many analysts believe that China’s Communist Party leadership won’t exert enough leverage on North Korea because a sudden collapse of the North’s regime could threaten China’s own security interests.
The separated first stage was predicted to fall in the Yellow Sea around 200 kilometers off the west coast of South Korea, followed by a second stage splashdown in the Philippine Sea.
The Yomiuri ShimbunThe worldwide community must stand united and ratchet up the pressure on North Korea to deter that nation from advancing its nuclear and missile programs.