US has no plans to stop N. Korea ICBM test: Gates

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Washington, Mar.30 (ANI): The United States has no plans to militarily pre-empt the launching of a long-range missile by North Korea, but has added that it would act only if the missile or its parts appeared to be headed toward American territory.

US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Sunday said that Washington could give a calibrated military response with cooperation from Japan and South Korea, but reminded one and all that diplomatic action would be pursued first.

North Korea has already announced that it plans to test fire a Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korean officials have said the launching is designed solely to push a satellite into orbit. Although the peaceful, commercial and scientific use of space is protected under international law, a United Nations Security Council resolution specifically bars North Korea from testing missiles and nuclear devices.

Gates said on "Fox News Sunday," "I don't know anyone at a senior level in the American government who does not believe this technology is intended as a mask for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile."

"If we had an aberrant missile, one that was headed for Hawaii, that looked like it was headed for Hawaii or something like that, we might consider it," Gates said.

Japan, has authorized its military to shoot down any debris from the rocket that might fall toward its territory, and has joined the United States and South Korea in saying the launching is a cover for testing technology for a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.

All three countries have demanded that North Korea cancel the launching but have conceded there is little they can do to force acceptable behavior on the isolated government in Pyongyang, beyond threatening even more sanctions. (ANI)

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