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US 3-Carrier Drill Aimed at N.Korea?

Posted June. 20, 2006 03:00,   


The U.S. government concluded that North Korea has finished injecting liquid fuel into the Taepodong 2 or an upgraded model of the Taepodong 2 located at Musudan-ri, Hwadae County, North Hamgyong Province, according to a Reuters report on June 18 (local time).

Quoting American government officials, Reuters reported that it is unlikely that North Korea might scrap the launch given the complexity of siphoning fuel back out of a missile prepared for launch. The South Korean government, however, has not concluded yet whether the fueling is complete or whether North Korea might launch the missile soon, according to a Seoul government official. Another government official said yesterday that “even if the fuel is injected, they can extract it back any time.”

On the other hand, Junichiro Koizumi, the Japanese prime minister, announced in a press meeting yesterday that “if North Korea launches the missile, we can’t help taking strong measures to respond in cooperation with the U.S.”

“There is nothing North Korea can gain by developing nuclear weapons,” continued the prime minister, “and we are collaborating with various countries to request North Korea not to launch the missile and we still hope they won’t.”

According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Washington and Tokyo will include their concerns over North Korea’s preparations for launching the missile in a joint statement which will be adopted during their summit talks scheduled on June 29 in Washington.

Between June 19 and 23, the U.S. will conduct a massive military drill that includes three aircraft carriers, 28 naval vessels, and 22,000 troops on the ocean nearby Guam. Although this drill, code-named “Valiant Shield 2006,” is an annual drill, its unprecedented scale of participating personnel and equipment is drawing attention in regards to the strange movements of North Korea.

Myoung-Gun Lee Young-A Soh gun43@donga.com sya@donga.com