Japanese concerns over possible new North Korea missile test

By staff writers
June 17, 2009

Japanese sources claim that North Korea may be planning to launch another missile, a day after US President Barack Obama called the country’s recent actions a “grave threat” to international security.

The secretive and authoritarian communist state launched an intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan from the Musudan-ri base on 5 April 2009. It claimed it was putting a satellite into orbit but international analysts say the data suggests a test for nuclear delivery purposes.

There are concerns that internal political wrangling over the leadership succession in North Korea has increased pressure for a more belligerent stand on the nuclear issue. It has also led to renewed verbal hostilities with South Korea - with whom a fragile truce exists.

“The government thinks it is undeniable that North Korea may carry out more missile launches,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura has said in Tokyo. “We view this with grave concern and are collecting and analysing information.”

He added that Japan has not decided whether it would attempt to intercept a missile launch, reports the US news website Bloomberg.

Mr Kawamura’s comments follow news reports that North Korea has moved a ballistic missile to one of its launching sites.

Kim Jong Il’s impoverished regime has launched several missiles and has conducted a nuclear weapon test during the past two months, resulting in international condemnation and tighter sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.

The leader's son is due to succeed him.

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