Saturday, April 4, 2009

Breaking News: North Korea Rocket Flies Over Japan

Japanese media say a North Korean rocket has passed over Japan toward the Pacific without incident.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK quoted government officials as saying there were no reports of any debris falling on Japan when the rocket passed over its territory early Sunday.

Prime Minister Taro Aso told reporters at his office that his government was monitoring the launch.

Japan had threatened to shoot down any debris from the rocket if the launch went wrong. It had positioned batteries of interceptor missiles on its coast and radar-equipped ships off its northern seas.

NHK reported that the rocket flew above Japanese airspace. It said some debris had been reported falling in the Sea of Japan, and some more in the Pacific.

By JOHN HEILPRIN Associated Press Writer

The U.N. Security Council is poised to hold an emergency session Sunday to deal with North Korea's rocket launch.

Japan requested an emergency session Sunday among diplomats on the 15-nation council that handles threats to international peace and security, said Yutaka Arima, a spokesman for Japan's United Nations mission.

That request occurred within minutes of the launch, he said.

Approval of a council meeting will come after certain formalities are handled, said Marco Morales, a spokesman for Claude Heller, Mexico's ambassador to the U.N. Mexico holds the council presidency this month.

"As soon as we get the letter, we'll call for a meeting to be held as soon as possible," Morales said.

The U.S. and South Korean governments confirmed North Korea launched a long-range rocket launch from its east coast base that flew over Japan.

North Korea says it was putting a communications satellite into space. The U.S., South Korea, Japan and others suspect Pyongyang of using the launch to improperly test long-range missile technology.

Diplomats at the U.N. say the U.S., Britain, France and South Korea already have begun discussing a possible Security Council resolution to reaffirm its existing sanctions on North Korea.

Those sanctions were imposed in 2006 in an attempt to persuade North Korea to shelve its nuclear program and halt long-range missile tests.

The diplomats said the U.S., Britain and France, each of which holds veto power on the 15-nation council, are unlikely to seek new sanctions in the face of probable resistance from China, North Korea's closest ally, and Russia, the other two nations with veto power.

They spoke on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

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