US Moves Warships to Track N. Korea Rocket Launch

Will be poised for missile defense
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 7, 2012 2:30 AM CST
This Dec. 4, 2012 satellite image shows the Sohae launching station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea.   (AP Photo/GeoEye via North Korea Tech and 38 North)

(Newser) – North Korea is planning a rocket launch in the next few weeks, and the US is getting ready: Washington is shifting warships to the best spots to keep an eye on the launch, and perhaps defend against it, Reuters reports. The US is monitoring the run-up to the launch "very closely," says the head of the US Pacific Command. "To the degree that those ships are capable of participating in ballistic missile defense, then we will position them to be able to do that," he noted.

The US made a similar move during a failed North Korean rocket launch in April. US monitoring will answer questions about the rocket, adds a Navy admiral, including: "What kind is it? What is it about? Where does it go? Who does it threaten?" While Pyongyang says it's trying to send a satellite into space, other countries, including the US, see the move as a ballistic missile test flouting UN resolutions. Regardless, the AP finds a potential wrinkle in North Korea's ambitions: Satellite images show that snow may have slowed its launch preparations; however, it could still be ready to go on Monday. (Read more warship stories.)

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