Japan, South Korea and the US move warships into offensive positions as tensions rise over North Korean plans to test a ballistic missile.
The US, South Korea and Japan warn that North Korea will face UN sanctions under a 2006 Security Council resolution banning the country from any ballistic activity.
“This provocative action, in violation of the United Nations mandate, will not go unnoticed and there will be consequences,” said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a recent visit to Mexico.
Clinton warned that Washington would itself put the issue before the UN Security Council for punitive measures.
The Japanese parliament has also taken an aggressive stance on the issue and passed a resolution on Tuesday, urging North Korea to abandon its planned launch.
According to Japan, the launch could “damage peace and stability, not only in Japan but also in north-east Asia”.
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Japan has deployed its own missile boats in its bases in the Sea of Japan while more US-made Patriot missiles arrived in Japan Monday to be transferred to the region.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang says the test-launch — scheduled for sometime between April 4 and 8 — is a “satellite test” allowed by international law.
A US Navy spokesman has nevertheless announced that two US destroyers had left the Sasebo port in the southwest of South Korea after holding military exercises with the South Korean Navy.
The spokesman did not mention the warships destination but there is every indication that they have departed for waters near North Korea to intervene in case a rocket is launched.
Pyongyang sees any intervention as an act of war.