US Positions Warships to Watch N Korea Missile Launch

December 7, 2012, Friday // 03:20
Bulgaria: US Positions Warships to Watch N Korea Missile Launch
A picture released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 20 November 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) smiling during a visit to a training center of the North Korean army`s cavalry company somewhere in North Korea. EPA/BGNES

The US is shifting warships into position to track and possibly defend against a planned North Korean rocket launch, international media inform.

Guided missile destroyers USS Benfold and USS Fitzgerald are moving into positions, although the Navy declined to give their exact location, CNN says. They are being sent to monitor for a possible launch and "provide reassurance to allies," according two Defense Department officials.

The US is also "rapidly moving assets to pacific region because of the ballistic missile threat in the region," the Commander of US Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, has  told reporters.

It was reported on Wednesday that North Korea completed pre-launch assembly of all three stages of a long-range rocket from the Sohae Space Center between December 10 and 22.

The launch will be North Korea's second this year. A previous launch in April failed when the rocket crashed into the Yellow Sea minutes after liftoff.

Pyongyang notified the International Maritime Organization, a UN shipping agency, about the launch on Monday.

According to the preliminary coordinates, the rocket's first stage would fall into the Yellow Sea between the Korean Peninsula and China, and the second stage separation would take place 136 kilometers east off the Philippines.

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