Tokyo has deployed warships in the sea of Japan and missile interceptors on land in preparation for North Korea’s upcoming “satellite” launch, The Guardian reports.
Pyongyang plans to launch the Kwangmyongsong earth observation satellite on a date between February 8 and 25. February 16 is considered a likely date because it is the birthday of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the father of current leader Kim Jong-un.
Japan, South Korea and the U.S. each suspect North Korea is using the satellite launch to covertly test long-range missile technology. Japanese officials have threatened to shoot down any North Korean missile that threatens Japan’s territory.
Officials fear North Korea is developing a nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on an inter-continental ballistic missile. North Korean ballistic missile technology is considered suspect, though.
Last month, Pyongyang claimed it tested a hydrogen bomb. It was reportedly North Korea’s fourth nuclear test.
In response, the United Nations is debating a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang.