Iran missile experts in North Korea to help with rocket launch
Times Online – March 29, 2009
Missile experts from Iran are in North Korea to help Pyongyang prepare for its rocket launch, according to reports.
Amid increasing global concern over the rocket launch, believed by the US and its allies to be an illegal missile launch, Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper claimed today a 15-strong delegation from Tehran has been in the country advising the North Koreans since the beginning of March.
The Iranian experts include senior officials with Iranian rocket and satellite producer Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, the daily said.
The Iranians brought a letter from Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il stressing the importance of cooperating on space technology, it added.
As tensions increase ahead of the rocket launch, Japan's Air Self-Defense Force began deploying units capable of shooting down a rocket to the northern prefectures of Akita and Iwate, according to local media.
Early today, units carrying Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles left a base in central Japan and will arrive at the northern prefectures on Monday, according to Japan's national broadcaster NHK.
Tokyo gave its military the green light to shoot down any incoming North Korean rocket on Friday.
Pyongyang has said it will launch a communications satellite over northern Japan between April 4 - 8, but the US and its allies in the region believe the secretive regime is actually planning illegally to test a long-range Taepodong-2 missile that could reach North America.
As Japanese media reports also claimed spy satellites have photographed the nose cone of a long-range North Korean rocket on its launch pad, envoys from South Korea, Japan and the US met in Washington during the weekend to discuss counter-measures to be taken against North Korea.
The three allies have warned that a rocket launch would be in violation of a UN Security Council resolution banning the communist state from carrying out ballistic missile activities.
Pyongyang has resisted pressure to call off the launch and warned that any attempt to shoot down the rocket would be regarded as an act of war.
Last updated 01/04/2009