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Don’t panic, it’s just a missile

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南宁桑拿

Document\”> An influential think-tank has urged the world not to over-react to North Korea\’s upcoming rocket launch, saying an “overblown” response could wreck nuclear disarmament talks and even risk a war.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), in a report seen Wednesday, said even a successful test-launch would only slightly heighten security risks.

An “overblown response would likely jeopardise” the six-party nuclear talks and strengthen hardliners in Pyongyang, it said.

Any use of missile defences could in the worst case “risk a war with potentially devastating damage to South Korea, Japan and the world economy,” the Brussels-based conflict resolution group said.

The communist North has announced it will launch a communications satellite some time in early April.

The United States, South Korea and Japan say this is a pretext to test a long-range ballistic missile in violation of UN resolutions, and promise to report the launch to the Security Council.

But permanent council members China and Russia are unlikely to support any strong measures, the report noted.

Japan has deployed anti-missile systems to try to bring down the rocket should it start falling toward Japanese territory, while the US says it does intend to try to intercept it.

The North says that even a discussion of the launch in the Security Council would wreck the six-party talks, while any interception would mean war.

The talks group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

“The prospective launch fits a pattern of North Korean attention-seeking when faced with stresses at home, political changes abroad or failure to get what it wants in negotiations,” the ICG report said.

It urged the other five members of the six-party talks to agree to “a moderate set of measures that maintains their unity in the face of North Korea\’s provocation.”

The report said the Taepodong-2 missile does not pose a significantly increased risk to Japan, since the North\’s tested and apparently reliable Rodong missile can already carry a nuclear warhead as far as Tokyo.

The report quoted intelligence sources as saying such warheads are believed to have been assembled for the Rodong.

“The Taepodong-2 could possibly reach Alaska but the likelihood of such a strike is negligible, since the North knows it would be devastated in any response,” it said.

“The launch of a Taepodong-2 also takes weeks to prepare; in a time of considerable tensions the missile could be destroyed on the (launch) pad.”

The six-party talks are stalled over differences about how the North\’s declared nuclear activities should be verified.

“Resumption of the talks is still a possibility, but they could be permanently derailed if the missile is shot down,” the ICG said.

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