NORTH KOREA MISSILE LAUNCHES RAISE TENSIONS
• Satellite images show preparations for long-range launch
• Japan puts self-defence forces on standby to intercept rocket
• South says two short-range missiles launched on Wednesday
The Guardian, March 30, 2012
North Korea's test-launch of two short-range missiles this week has raised anxiety levels in the region, as the regime in Pyongyang prepares to defy international opinion with the launch next month of a long-range rocket, which many believe is connected to its ballistic missile programme.
South Korean defence officials said that North Korea had launched two surface-to-ship missiles from a site on its west coast early on Wednesday, a day after world leaders attending a nuclear security summit in Seoul urged the regime to cancel the rocket launch and return to six-party nuclear talks.
North Korea insists that the forthcoming launch, which is expected around 15 April to coincide with the centenary of the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-sung, is designed to put an observation satellite into orbit.
The US, South Korea and Japan, however, say it would be a violation of UN security council resolutions banning North Korea from missile activity, as the same technology could be developed for use in multistage missiles, including those capable of hitting the US mainland.
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