London Telegraph 
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The US has deployed two warships with anti-missile capabilities in the waters off Japan as tensions mount over North Korea’s plans to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile capable of striking Alaska.
The deployment comes as America, Japan and South Korea threaten North Korea with ‘serious consequences’ if it proceeds with plans to conduct the missile test in defiance of a 2006 UN resolution.
North Korea, which has informed international agencies of its plan to fire the missile between April 4 and 8, says the launch is a “satellite test” which it is entitled to make under international law.
Recent satellite imagery has shown that the North Korea has now assembled two stages of the three-stage Taepodong-2 missile on a launch pad in the country’s northeast. Experts estimate that missile could be ready to fire within four days.
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Japan has threatened to shoot down the missile if it crosses over Japanese territory, a move which Pyongyang has already said it would consider an “act of war”.
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Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has warned any launch would threaten to end the six-party talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme. The talks have been stalled since December in a dispute over how to verify its disarmament.
“This provocative action, in violation of the United Nations mandate, will not go unnoticed and there will be consequences,” she said while on a visit to Mexico, warning that the US would put the issue before the UN Security Council for additional sanctions.
Full story here.