The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh have joined the USS Benfold and the USS Fitzgerald, both guided-missile destroyers, to monitor the launch, a Navy official said Saturday.
North Korea announced earlier this month that it will launch a “satellite” sometime between Monday and Dec. 22 to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jung-il, who died Dec. 17.
The upcoming launch is the secretive communist nation’s second attempt in eight months. A launch in April ended when the rocket broke apart over the Pacific.
Western nations have said what North Korea claims are satellite launches are actually ballistic missile tests, since the same technology applies. The U.N. has banned North Korea from conducting such tests.
Japan has begun readying a ballistic missile battery in Tokyo to intercept anything headed toward its mainland, and dispatched three destroyers to waters the missile will travel over. South Korea will deploy two destroyers in the coming days to track the missile, the Associated Press reported.
North Korea has carried out at least three other failed launches over the past decade.
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Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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