As part of next month’s 100th anniversary celebrating Kim Il-sung’s birth, North Korea says it will launch a long-range rocket to place a satellite into space sometime between April 12 and 16.The news is causing a furor and would violate an agreement Pyongyang reached with the U.S. in late February where North Korea agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile launches, and nuclear tests.
It was lauded at the time as a “breakthrough” in diplomatic relations with the Northern regime and prompted the U.S. to offer 240,000 metric tons of much needed food to the North in return.
South Korea is calling the move a “grave provocation,” saying North Korea is using the ruse of a satellite launch to disguise its test of a long-range missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Japan is equally outraged and announced Monday it will take steps to shoot down the North Korean rocket should it venture anywhere near Japan.
Tokyo could invoke the shootdown order based on its Self-defence Forces Law, and the move would be performed by its Self-defence Forces.
Even China is calling for restraint. “We sincerely hope parties concerned stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid escalation of tension that may lead to a more complicated situation,” Xinhua on Saturday quoted Zhang as saying (via Reuters).
North Korea held a similar launch in 2009 that failed to place any satellite and crashed into the Sea of Japan.
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