TOKYO, June 18 (KUNA) -- North Korea may be preparing to launch a
long-range ballistic missile toward the US southwest state of Hawaii from its
Tongchang-ri facility on the northwestern coast as soon as early July, a
top-selling newspaper reported here Thursday, citing analysis by the Japanese
According to the daily Yomiuri, the ministry believes North Korea is likely
to launch a missile sometime between July 4 and 8, because the 1996 launch of
the Taepodong-2 missile took place on the July 4 US Independence Day and July
8 falls on the anniversary of the 1994 death of former North Korean leader Kim
Based on the assumption that this latest missile is a two- or three-stage
type and has capability equal or superior to the long-range ballistic missile
North Korea launched in April, the ministry predicted the possibility of a
launch toward Hawaii, with a launch toward Japan's southernmost prefecture of
Okinawa and Guam also seen a possibility, the report said.
But if it took the Okinawan path, when the first-stage booster detaches, it
could fall in the vicinity of a Chinese coastal area and might anger China,
the daily said.
In the case of the Guam path, the missile must overfly South Korea and
Japan's main island, which means the booster would be dumped onto a land area.
In case of the Hawaii route, the booster could be dumped into the Sea of
Japan. If such a long-range test launch was successful, North Korea would be
able to pose a great military threat to the US, which until now has not
regarded North Korean missiles as a threat to North America or Hawaii.
Therefore, the ministry concluded the Hawaii route is most probable of the
three scenarios, it said.
While the distance from North Korea to the main islands of Hawaii is about
7,000 kilometers, an upgraded Taepodong-2 only has a range of 4,000 to 6,500
kilometers. The ministry believes even if the missile took the most direct
route over northern Japan, it would not reach the main Hawaiian Islands, it
North Korea has three missile launch bases in Kitteryong near the military
demarcation line with South Korea and at Tongchang-ri, in addition to a base
at Musudan-ri on the country's northeastern coast, where a long-range missile
was launched on April 5, the daily recalled.
At the Tongchang-ri facility, either a Taepodong-2 missile or an upgraded
Taepodong-2 was believed to have been brought from a missile manufacturing
facility near Pyongyang on May 30, the newspaper said.
The ministry is considering starting preparations to intercept missiles
based on the possibility that North Korea might launch missiles from all three
bases simultaneously, it added. (end)
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