Japan, US Ready Defenses for N Korean Missile

Navy moves ships in as Tokoy says it will shoot down debris
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2009 6:09 AM CDT
An aerial view of a North Korean rocket launch site. North Korea is loading a Taepodong rocket on its launch pad that is presumed to be carrying a missile.   (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)
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(Newser) – The Japanese government ordered its military to fire on a North Korean rocket if any part of it falls into Japanese airspace, reports Reuters. North Korea has said it will launch a communications satellite but is presumed to be testing a long-range missile, which is currently on a launch pad. North Korea has warned that any attempt to shoot down the rocket itself would be an act of war.

Japan's constitution bars the military from intercepting a missile heading elsewhere, but it may shoot down a missile aimed at its territory. The US Navy has moved nearby ships capable of destroying ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, and nuclear envoys from Japan and South Korea will arrive in Washington today for talks. If North Korea successfully launches a missile, the Obama administration would have as little as five minutes to decide whether to shoot it down.