Japan Ready To Intercept Debris From North Korean Launch

03.26.09 | FL News Team

The Japanese military is on alert ahead of what many nations fear is an upcoming missile launch by North Korea. Pyongyang has announced plans to send a communications satellite into space sometime between April 4th and April 8th. However, regional leaders believe North Korea actually intends to test a long-range missile.

The Taepodong-Two has only had one previous test flight. Back in 2006, the missile is believed to have either blown up or self-destructed after failing a mere 40 seconds after launch. North Korea has said the rocket's trajectory will take it over part of Japan.

According the Japanese defense minister, Tokyo issued a broad order Friday for its military to be prepared to destroy any potentially dangerous debris that could fall on Japan in the event of an "accident involving a flying object from North Korea."

A Japanese response could inflame tensions with Pyongyang, which has said any attempt to shoot down the rocket would be considered an act of war. The Japanese defense minister maintains the military won't act unless an object threatens to fall on Japan.

Meanwhile, top nuclear envoys from Japan, South Korea and the U.S. are scheduled to meet in Washington, DC today. All three nations have reiterated their calls for North Korea to abandon the launch. Japanese and U.S. officials warn the missile test would violate U.N. resolutions imposed on Pyongyang. South Korea says the launch would jeopardize security in northern Asia.