US: Debris from North Korea rocket risks casualties


A satellite launch pad in Tongchang-ri, Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea, is shown in this satellite image taken and provided by GeoEye taken on March 20. The Tongchang-ri site is about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the Chinese border city of Dandong, across the Yalu River from North Korea. AP Photo/GeoEye

WASHINGTON—Debris from a rocket launch planned by North Korea next month could cause casualties, a senior US military official said Wednesday.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia-Pacific Security Affairs Peter Lavoy said North Korea has indicated the rocket will be launched southward, but the US lacks confidence about the rocket’s stability and where the impact will be.

He said it is probably intended to land somewhere close to the Philippines or maybe Indonesia. He said South Korea and the Japanese island of Okinawa could also be affected.

“A number of countries are potentially affected,” Lavoy told the House Armed Services Committee. “The debris could fall on their countries; could cause casualties.”

North Korea says the rocket will be launched in mid-April to mark the centennial of the communist nation’s founder and to put an observation satellite into space.

The United States and its allies view the launch as a cover for testing long-range missile technology, and violates a UN ban.

“This is now an issue that not only concerns the South Koreans and, of course, us and the Japanese,” Lavoy said. “Everybody in Asia-Pacific has become concerned about North Korea’s growing missile capability, especially as they’re continuing to develop their nuclear weapons capability.”

In 1998, North Korea tested a long-range missile that hurtled east over Japan. Experts say a new launch site in North Korea’s west allows a flight path that could avoid flying over other countries.

North Korea also conducted long-range rocket tests in 2006 and 2009, and the latest test could demonstrate if it is closer to perfecting a multi-stage rocket that could hit the United States. North Korea has also conducted two nuclear tests, but is not believed to have mastered how to fit a nuclear weapon onto a missile.

Gen. James D. Thurman, the commander of the 28,500 US forces in South Korea, said that “left unchecked” the development of North Korea’s missile capability would pose a serious threat to the US but he declined to specify at an open hearing how long that might take.

North Korea announced the planned launch just two weeks after reaching an accord with the US to receive food aid in exchange for freezing nuclear activities and long-range missile tests. The agreement had offered hope for an easing of tension between the long-term adversaries and a resumption of disarmament talks on the North’s nuclear program.

Lavoy confirmed that plans to provide food were now suspended because the US lacked confidence that North Korea would stick to its commitments to allow proper monitoring of the aid’s distribution.

He viewed the planned launch as an attempt to demonstrate the “bona fides” of impoverished North Korea’s new government, under Kim Jong Un, who took power after the death of his father and long-time ruler Kim Jong Il.

“They can’t meet the needs of the population,” Lavoy said, “so they resort to provocative behavior.”

Thurman said in his testimony that the situation on the Korean Peninsula has entered a “dangerously uncertain period.”

He detailed North Korea’s capability of hitting the South Korean capital Seoul with artillery and missiles loaded with high explosives and chemical munitions with little or no warning. He also spoke of its growing cyber-warfare capabilities against US and South Korea interests, increasingly used against military, governmental, educational and commercial institutions.

But he also remarked on atrophying in some of impoverished North Korea’s forces — it maintains the world’s fourth largest army — and said the US could repel any North Korean attack.

On diplomatic efforts to get North Korea to reconsider the launch, Lavoy said the US was dissatisfied with China’s attempts so far to pressure its North Korean ally to reform and abide by norms of international conduct, and urged it to do more.

“We hope that China will take a more constructive approach,” he said.

North Korea has vowed to go forward with the launch. It says the satellite it sends into space will estimate crop production and analyze natural resources.

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  • Wel Aguda

    north koreans devil why my country? asssssssssss)))))))))))))))———-> O

  • Bom

    And the missile is reported to be called “Goodbye Philippines”..descendant of the philippine missile called “KWITIS”..stolen from the philippine technolgy in Bulacan.

  • rizalista

    if the debris lands on the generals’ mansions, that won’t be a bad thing.

  • PHtaxpayer

    This is pure propaganda.  NK’s population and GDP is only 1/4 that of the PH – how can she threaten anyone?  If we should be afraid of the sky falling on us one day, its all that US space junk that falls on Earth everyday.

    Only the US can threaten anyone because she is the world’s most powerful superpower.  US just wants to demonize NK as it had done to the Taliban and Saddam Hussein before invading their country.  But who is the real demon?  US has over 30,000 nuclear weapons and spends more on war and her military than China, Japan, both Koreas and the EU COMBINED.  US weapons have caused thousands of innocent civilian deaths but this is merely labeled “collateral damage”, fraticide, or accidental.  Doesn’t matter what you call it, it was American foreign policy that caused their deaths, more than any other nation since WW2.Filipino’s seem to forget that the PH-US War 1899-1902++ cost us about a million civilian deaths, mostly from starvation and disease when the US Army herded whole towns and villages into concentration camps (they did the same thing to Japanese-Americans in the West Coast during WW2 and again, during the Vietnam War calling it “hamletting”).  Only a few thousands PH soldiers died by American weapons but it was cruel and inhumane American treatment that killed a lot of innocent civilians.Even without weapons, US sanctions have caused thousands of deaths from starvation, malnutrition and lack of pharmaceuticals.

    NK is targetted by the US because she is simply allied with China, Iran and Russia.  US imperialism wants to dominate every region and surround her competitors with military bases to threaten them into dealing with them.  For that reason, PRC will never let NK fall to US or SK.

    The PH should not get involved with this superpower politics because it will hurt us like it did in WW2 when superpowers decide to have  war.

  • Ben

    This is a Chinese propaganda ploy, being silent–means it is approving the North Southward launch and even near the Philippines. By not restraining it`s neighbor which is undoubtedly a puppet regime and dependent on China and just one forceful punishment the North will behave, it is making us beware or fearful of what they can do and that it`s proxy country can wage a war using missiles even reaching the ASEAN area…I think we are being dragged into the fray since the Philippines is one of the responding country to reunify the north to the south and fight the North and the Chinese combined invasion of South Korea.

    It is only making the Philippines more determined to develop it`s missile defense shield and it`s defensive capacity….research and development is a must for this country so we will not always be running behind Uncle Sam. It is time to pursue harder our resolve to develop further that we can be like South Korea and Japan, able to level up it`s defensive capability or wage an offensive show, one that can match the strength of the threat….

  • sh1seadad

    No need to be worried FiLipino’s. The US is close by the Philippines to protect you. There are US ships and troops there to shoot down this missile if it comes to your island’s. Don’t forget the US is your friend with millions of Filipino’s living in the US and they will want ther family’s in the Philippines protected. God Bless America!

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