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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sea-zone ban fuels speculation of missile launch


Staff writer

North Korea has banned vessels from traveling in a designated area off its northeast shore between Wednesday and June 30, raising speculation that another missile launch is on the way, the Japan Coast Guard said Monday.

While the specified location does not pose a threat to Japan's territory, the coast guard has issued a navigation warning to all Japanese ships.

The designated area starts at the port of Wonsan, North Korea, and stretches approximately 263 km with a maximum width of 100 km. The coast guard said Pyongyang issued the radio warning Sunday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Japan "cannot deny the possibility that (North Korea) will fire missiles, including ballistic missiles, in response to developments of the U.N. Security Council and other moves."

The broadcast by North Korea, which has reportedly been preparing an assortment of missiles following its nuclear test last month, said the restriction is effective from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until the end of June. Similar warnings were intercepted last month just before Pyongyang tested several short-range missiles.

The May nuclear test took place after the U.N. Security Council condemned its April test of a long-range ballistic missile, part of which flew over Japan and fell in the Pacific.

Prior to the nuke test, North Korea reportedly pressed for the Security Council to issue an apology for infringing on its sovereignty with the sanctions.

Information from Kyodo added



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