The Japanese parliament’s upper house yesterday adopted a resolution to protest North Korea’s plan to launch a rocket as early as the weekend, calling it a threat to peace in northeast Asia.
The resolution against the launch scheduled for between Saturday and Wednesday was approved unanimously and expected to be passed by the lower house in the afternoon.
Pyongyang has said it will launch a communications satellite over northern parts of Japan, while the US and its Asian allies suspect the launch is a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test.
Launching the rocket “would threaten the peace of not only Japan but also the region of northeast Asia,” the resolution said.
Diet legislators in the resolution said they “sternly protest” against the planned launch and “strongly urge North Korea to refrain from launching” the rocket.
North Korea has warned that the rocket’s first booster would likely plunge into the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, off Japan’s northern Akita Prefecture, while the second stage would drop into the Pacific between Japan and Hawaii.
Japan has deployed land and sea-based anti-missile systems to try to bring down the rocket should it start falling toward Japanese territory. The North has said it would regard a rocket intercept as an act of war.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso told parliament yesterday that Japan “will appeal to the UN Security Council if North Korea goes ahead with the launch.”
Meanwhile, one Seoul-based analyst said intelligence reports indicated North Korea appeared to have built nuclear warheads for its mid-range Rodong missiles, which can reach Japan.
“I have some intelligence assessments that indicate they have assembled nuclear warheads for Rodong missiles,” said Daniel Pinkston, an analyst with the nongovernmental International Crisis Group. “No one can know this with 100 percent accuracy.”
Many proliferation experts believe the North, whose only nuclear test in 2006 was seen as a partial success, does not have the advanced nuclear technology to miniaturize a nuclear device for a warhead.
It might be able to place biological agents on a missile or make a dirty bomb, where radiation is spread through conventional explosives.
North Korea’s planned missile launch is certain to feature on the sidelines of the G20 summit this week in London, where US President Barack Obama will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Analysts say the North may not be worried about incurring more sanctions from the launch, which it could see as a way of gaining greater leverage in negotiations with the outside world, which is trying to make it give up attempts to build a nuclear arsenal.