REPORTS: North Korea Considering Firing Missile At Hawaii

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, a Japanese news report said Thursday, as Russia and China urged the regime to return to international disarmament talks on its rogue nuclear program.

The missile, believed to be a Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), would be launched from North Korea's Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast, said the Yomiuri daily, Japan's top-selling newspaper. It cited an analysis by the Japanese Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.

The missile launch could come between July 4 and 8, the paper said.

While the newspaper speculated the Taepodong-2 could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, it said the missile would not be able to hit Hawaii's main islands, which are about 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) from the Korean peninsula.

A spokesman for the Japanese Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report. South Korea's Defense Ministry and the National Intelligence Service - the country's main spy agency - said they could not confirm it.

Tension on the divided Korean peninsula has spiked since the North conducted its second nuclear test on May 25 in defiance of repeated international warnings. The regime declared Saturday it would bolster its nuclear programs and threatened war in protest of U.N. sanctions taken for the nuclear test.

U.S. officials have said the North has been preparing to fire a long-range missile capable of striking the western U.S. In Washington on Tuesday, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would take at least three to five years for North Korea to pose a real threat to the U.S. west coast.

President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met in Washington on Tuesday for a landmark summit in which they agreed to build a regional and global "strategic alliance" to persuade North Korea to dismantle all its nuclear weapons. Obama declared North Korea a "grave threat" to the world and pledged that the new U.N. sanctions on the communist regime will be aggressively enforced.

In Seoul, Vice Unification Minister Hong Yang-ho told a forum Thursday that the North's moves to strengthen its nuclear programs is "a very dangerous thing that can fundamentally change" the regional security environment. He said the South Korean government is bracing for "all possible scenarios" regarding the nuclear standoff.

The independent International Crisis Group think tank, meanwhile, said the North's massive stockpile of chemical weapons is no less serious a threat to the region than its nuclear arsenal.

It said the North is believed to have between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, phosgene, blood agents and sarin. These weapons can be delivered with ballistic missiles and long-range artillery and are "sufficient to inflict massive civilian casualties on South Korea."

"If progress is made on rolling back Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, there could be opportunities to construct a cooperative diplomatic solution for chemical weapons and the suspected biological weapons program," the think tank said in a report released Thursday.

It also called on the U.S. to engage the North in dialogue to defuse the nuclear crisis, saying "diplomacy is the least bad option." The think tank said Washington should be prepared to send a high-level special envoy to Pyongyang to resolve the tension.

In a rare move, leaders of Russia and China used their meetings in Moscow on Wednesday to pressure the North to return to the nuclear talks and expressed "serious concerns" about tension on the Korean peninsula.

The joint appeal appeared to be a signal that Moscow and Beijing are growing impatient with Pyongyang's stubbornness. Northeastern China and Russia's Far East both border North Korea, and Pyongyang's unpredictable actions have raised concern in both countries.

After meetings at the Kremlin, Chinese President Hu Jintao joined Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in urging a peaceful resolution of the Korean standoff and the "swiftest renewal" of the now-frozen talks involving their countries as well as North and South Korea, Japan and the United States.

"Russia and China are ready to foster the lowering of tension in Northeast Asia and call for the continuation of efforts by all sides to resolve disagreements through peaceful means, through dialogue and consultations," their statement said.

The comments - contained in a lengthy statement that discussed other global issues - included no new initiatives, but it appeared to be carefully worded to avoid provoking Pyongyang. In remarks after their meetings, Medvedev made only a brief reference to North Korea, and Hu did not mention it.

South Korea's Lee said Wednesday in Washington that was essential for China and Russia to "actively cooperate" in getting the North to give up its nuclear program, suggesting the North's bombs program may trigger a regional arms race.

"If we acknowledge North Korea possessing nuclear programs, other non-nuclear countries in Northeast Asia would be tempted to possess nuclear weapons and this would not be helpful for stability in Northeast Asia," Lee said in a meeting with former U.S. officials and Korea experts, according to his office.

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  • by Ank Location: Greenville on Jun 20, 2009 at 03:46 AM
    Funny how you so lightly say you'd blow away other countries with the flick of a few switches. Is it really that simple to you? All those human beings blown to dust at your hands, and you would be proud of this? ALPHA female, you're no different than a 9/11 terrorist. MIKE: You imply blowing a country off the map is being a man while using diplomacy is not manly. Just to let you know, reasonable people with minds see it the opposite way. It takes a real man to sit down and work out differences and fix things, it takes a bonehead to bypass diplomacy and blow away another country.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Jun 19, 2009 at 03:48 PM
    ALPHA, you are a tough A today, but can I be VP and flip one of those switches. Good Day.
  • by pee dee Location: jacksonville on Jun 19, 2009 at 12:01 PM
    Chris, although I agree that George W did not handle North Korea as effectively as he should, I would not say that what Clinton did was making headway. In 1994 he agreed to give North Korea 500,000 TONS of FREE FUEL PER YEAR, massive food aid, AND to build 2 nuclear power plants if North Korea would stop developing a nuclear bomb. North Korea accepted but the Congressional Research Service believes that North Korea started back with their nuclear program in 1995. We gave them a bribe, they took it and then kept on doing what they were doing. I think we have failed to handle North Korea correctly since before the end of World War II. We created this mess and we have yet to figure out how to fix it. This is the fault of EVERY President since Trumman.
  • by ~ALPHA female~ Location: O84P on Jun 18, 2009 at 11:23 PM
    A real woman needs to run this country. ..There is to much lip service and yapping going on. ..Less talk / more action. ..Talk is cheap remember. ...I would be impeached but not before I blew Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea to dust. BOOOOM! I would hit rocket switches from the Oval Office.
  • by Chris Location: Greenville on Jun 18, 2009 at 11:02 PM
    Lonnie and Mike, both of you are severly misinformed and truly ignorant of your worlds history! North Korea and the IAEA have been butting heads since 1992-1993 when Bill Clinton was in office! Bill Clinton actually made some head-way with N. Korea and then Ole Junior boy comes into Office and carries everything to hade's! Good ole Junior played and tugged with N. Korea during his ENTIRE TENUREm yet nothing was ever bomb and he continued to send fuel to N. Korea even though N. Korea was not living up to it's end of the deal. Dubya then managed to not only humiliate, but also belittle the President of South Korea, who happens to also be a Nobel Peace Prize winner,Kim Dae Jung. Dubya even managed to make S. Korea mad at the U.S., and THEY WERE OUR ALLIES!!! President Obama has a big mess to clean up behind good ole "dubya", no wonder he is not trying to bomb a country for being jerked around by one of our worst presidents of all times!
  • by help on Jun 18, 2009 at 10:00 PM
    obama is rebilding the foodstamp program he dose not have time for theis missle stiff lol
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Jun 18, 2009 at 08:32 PM
    Lonnie, please don't insult the rattlesnakes like that. Obama has a spine more like a jellyfish, as in NONE!
  • by Snit Location: North Carolina on Jun 18, 2009 at 08:13 PM
    If you don't rebuild the country and feed the people, someone far worse comes along as a leader. Look at Germany, Post WWI, as an example. Why do you think we rebuilt them and Japan after WWII?
  • by fred Location: lenoir county on Jun 18, 2009 at 05:54 PM
    leave Obama alone and let him swat his fly.
  • by antoneo on Jun 18, 2009 at 05:51 PM
    They fire the missle, we attack, then rebuild the country and feed them.
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