Japan warns over N.Korea missiles

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan, stunned by North Korea's multiple missile launch last month, said on Tuesday it believed the reclusive communist state had developed ballistic missiles capable of "pinpoint" attacks on targets in Japan.

    In an annual defense white paper issued on Tuesday, Japan's defense ministry also urged China to disclose military data to allay neighbors' fears about Beijing's defense buildup.

    North Korea has drawn harsh international condemnation for test-launching seven missiles on July 5, including its long-range Taepodong-2 missiles, which experts said could potentially hit parts of U.S. territory.

    Saying North Korea apparently deployed medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles that could put all of Japan within their range of about 1,300 km (810 miles), the white paper added: "It is thought that their precision is so high that they can carry out pinpoint attacks on specific facilities."

    North Korea shocked the world in 1998 when it fired a missile that passed over Japan and experts believes it has up to 200 Rodong missiles that could reach most of the country, including Tokyo.

    "North Korea's development, deployment and proliferation of ballistic missiles, coupled with nuclear issues, have become destabilizing factors not only in the Asia-Pacific region but in the entire world, and we are gravely concerned about it," the annual report said.

    Some materials used to make North Korean missiles were believed to have come from unspecified third countries, while missiles and missile-related technologies were thought to have been sold to countries such as Iran and Pakistan, it said.


    The United States has said Iranian officials attended last month's North Korean missile tests, heightening U.S. concerns about ties between Pyongyang and Tehran.

    The annual report also rang alarm bells over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

    "Considering a series of North Korean actions, we cannot rule out the possibility of North Korea's nuclear programs having already made considerable advancement," it said.

    Washington believes North Korea has one or two nuclear bombs and the ability to build more.

    Experts say North Korea has enough fissile material to make at least six to eight nuclear bombs, but lacks the ability to miniaturize a weapon to fit on a missile.

    Six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia stalled last November after Pyongyang objected to U.S. financial sanctions based on accusations that it counterfeited dollars and trafficked drugs.

    In remarks repeating a call that had outraged China and South Korea, defense minister Fukushiro Nukaga said last month that Japan should consider obtaining the capability to strike overseas enemy bases.

    But in a briefing on the white paper, Hideshi Tokuchi, the ministry's defense councilor, said Japan was not considering pre-emptive strikes on any country.

    "There is no change in Japan's defense policy, and therefore we are not thinking at all of carrying out pre-emptive strikes," Tokuchi told reporters.

    "The so-called attacks on enemy bases have long been debated, but we have no intention of changing the present policy."


    In the annual report, Japan's defense ministry also accused China of refusing to fully disclose information on its military.

    "China has steadily grown as a regional power politically and economically, and all countries are also focused on China's military," the Japanese annual paper said.

    "It is important for China to improve transparency on its national defense policy and military strength in order to dispel (neighbors') concern over itself."

    Japan's defense ministry also said China's drive in the last few years to quickly modernize its military could tip the shaky military balance between rival Beijing and Taipei.

    "China is rapidly modernizing its military capabilities and there is a possibility of changing the military balance between China and Taiwan," it said.

    China's rapid modernization of its military, backed by robust increases in military spending in recent years, was believed to be aimed at preventing foreign troops from intervening in the event of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, it said.

    Beijing and Taipei have been rivals since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has threatened to attack the democratic island of 23 million people if it formally declares independence.

    Nevertheless, Tokuchi said: "We do not treat any specific country as a threat."
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