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North Korea threat prompts Japan to review its missile defense

August 11, 8:09 UTC+3 TOKYO

On August 10, North Korea revealed a plan to launch a missile towards Guam by mid-August

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©  EPA/KCNA

TOKYO, August 11. /TASS/. The Japanese government is considering the possibility of deploying Patriot PAC-3 air defense systems in three of its prefectures and sending ships with the Aegis Combat System to the Pacific Ocean following North Korea’s warnings of a possible missile launch toward the US island territory of Guam, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Friday.

Japan relies on a two-layered system in its missile defenses. Four Congo-class and two Atago-class destroyers are equipped with Aegis SM-3 missiles, designed to engage missile in the mid-course phase. If this system fails, three battalions of land-based Patriot missiles will intercept missiles during the terminal phase.

Following Pyongyang’s claims of planning to launch four Hwasong-12 missiles that would fly in the Japanese airspace and splash down some 30-40 km from Guam, the Japanese government may send the Aegis-equipped destroyers to the Pacific Ocean, while land-based Patriot PAC-3 systems will remain on alert along the projected path of the missiles if the North Korean launch fails, Yomiuri reported.

When asked about the possibility of deploying missile defense systems in Kochi, Shimane and Hiroshima, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters late on Thursday that "the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces, will take the necessary measures, taking various factors into account." He gave no further details.

Earlier, the minister said that intercepting a North Korean ballistic missile was possible if three conditions are met: the launch should pose a direct threat to the country, there should be no other options and the minimal required amount of force is used.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday that the Korean People’s Army is drafting a plan for a preemptive missile strike against US military facilities in Guam, including the Andersen Air Force Base where B-52 strategic bombers are deployed. US President Donald Trump Trump told reporters that North Korea should not make any more threats to the US and its allies, vowing that Pyongyang’s threats "will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen."

Later in the day, KCNA released details of the plan, expected to be finalized by mid-August. According to the agency, Pyongyang plans to launch four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which are supposed to fly some 3,400 kilometers over Japan’s Prefectures of Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi to splash down some 30-40 kilometers off Guam.

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