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U.S., Japan said to deploy PAC-3 missiles

U.S., Japan said to deploy PAC-3 missiles

Japan and the United States have agreed to deploy advanced Patriot interceptor missiles on U.S. bases in Japan for the first time, officials said yesterday amid concerns North Korea may test-fire a long-range ballistic missile.The two sides reached the accord earlier this month and intend to install the weapons as early as possible, a Defense Agency spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing agency rules.
The plan will put Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles - designed to intercept ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or enemy aircraft - on U.S. bases in Japan for the first time. A news report, however, said the PAC-3 may be unable to hit North Korea's latest long-range missile.
The Defense Agency spokeswoman said sites and timing for the deployment have not yet been decided.
But a local newspaper reported that the U.S. military would deploy three or four of the surface-to-air missile batteries on the island of Okinawa by the end of the year and send an additional 500 to 600 U.S. troops there.
The plan was proposed by U.S. officials during a June 17 meeting in Hawaii, Japan's largest newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported, quoting unidentified government officials.
The two countries signed an agreement in 2005 allowing Japan to produce PAC-3 missiles for deployment during fiscal 2006 at Japanese bases, but the plan to deploy them on U.S. bases is apparently separate.
Recent intelligence reports have said North Korea may be fueling a Taepodong-2, sparking concerns Pyongyang may soon test-fire one.
However, Japan's defense chief said that it was not clear if fueling is taking place, a news report said.
Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said in a speech delivered in Osaka that while "it appears to be a fact that the missile has been mounted on a launch platform," it was unclear if it was being fueled, Kyodo News agency reported.
Also yesterday, a South Korean civic group leader who returned from a trip to Pyongyang said a North Korean official told him there was no reason for his country to fire a missile. The North Korean official wasn't connected to the military and it wasn't clear if his view represented the government's position.