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Japanese defense minister orders SDF to intercept DPRK rocket if necessary

(Xinhua)

10:14, March 30, 2012

TOKYO, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka officially ordered the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to intercept a Domestic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) rocket launch if necessary on Friday.

The minister issued the order after he told SDF on Tuesday to take preparatory measures against the DPRK rocket launch which Japan and other countries see as a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test.

The order, which readies the SDF's missile shield against the rocket or its debris, was given after Tanaka and other Cabinet members confirmed their policy during the Security Council of Japan chaired by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, according to local news report.

Meanwhile, Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force will deploy its helicopter rescue personnel, who are trained to handle disasters, to areas where the rocket may veer off course and fly over, said local media.

The DPRK announced earlier it would launch an "earth observation" satellite, or the Kwangmyongsong-3, using a long-range rocket to mark the 100th birthday of late leader Kim Il-Sung. The satellite is scheduled to be launched from a station in North Phyongan province between April 12 and 16.

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