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Japan Remains on Alert Amid Reports of Delayed Launch of North Korean Rocket
Japanese Current Events
Just hours after North Korea delayed the much-criticized rocket launch program, Japan said that it would remain on full alert as Pyongyang has opened the lift-off window.
"We are taking all possible measures for vigilance," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters.
Japan is closely monitoring every North Korean move, said Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, adding, "We don't think enough changes are occurring to change our posture. We will maintain our current posture unless North Korea issues a formal notice or announcement" on the delay.
According to North Korean media reports, the launch plan was delayed due to some technical changes. However, there had been no official confirmation on the cause of delay. Meanwhile, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that North had completely stopped launch preparations in northwestern part of the country where the launch was scheduled for between December 10 and 22.
Japan has already deployed missile defense systems capable of intercepting and destroying the rocket if it enters its territory.
In a related development, a report in Chosun Ilbo newspaper claimed that Iranian missile experts have arrived in Pyongyang to offer technical assistance for the scheduled long-range rocket launch. \
The report said that North had invited Iranians following April's failure. "A car seen at the... launch site has been spotted driving back and forth from the accommodation facility nearby. It is believed to be carrying Iranian experts," Chosun quoted an unnamed official as saying.
"It appears that the connection between the North and Iran in missile (development) dating back to the 1980s is more extensive than previously believed," the official said.
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