Japan threatens to shoot down North Korean rocket

Japan threatens to shoot down North Korean rocket

Japan threatens to shoot down North Korean rocket

Updated 3 December 2012, 14:21 AEST

Japan is threatening to shoot down a North Korean rocket that Pyongyang says it could launch next week.

Japan is threatening to shoot down a North Korean rocket that Pyongyang says it could launch next week.

Kim Jong-un's regime insists the rocket, which it says will fly south over the Philippines and Australia and into orbit, is carrying a communications satellite.

Audio: Listen to Mark Willacy's report (AM)

But the United States, South Korea and Japan all say that the launch is really a ballistic missile test, with North Korea trying to master the technology to fire long-range missiles capable of one day carrying a nuclear warhead.

The last North Korean rocket launch ended in ignominy in April, when the rocket broke up and splashed into the Yellow Sea just a minute or so after take-off.

After that debacle, there were rumours throughout Pyongyang that a couple of rocket scientists had disappeared.

Japan's prime minister Yoshihiko Noda is threatening to shoot down the next rocket if it manages to stay airborne and threaten Japanese territory.

"The defence minister has today issued orders to prepare for the interception and defence against ballistic missiles," he said.

"If they do indeed go ahead with the launch, then it is indeed very regrettable.

"Not only our country, but the entire international community must take strong measures to deal with this."

The launch window runs for 12 days from next Monday - a period in which South Korean voters will be going to the polls to elect a new president.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr on the planned Korean rocket launch Video: Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr on the planned Korean rocket launch (ABC News)

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says North Korea's plans are provocative.

Senator Carr has condemned North Korea's plan and says that message will be passed on to North Korea's ambassador.

"That won't surprise the government. They've heard it from us before when they've undertaken provocative action in respect of a commitment to nuclear tests and ballistic missile testing," he said.

"It is important that we register this because its a mark of our solidarity with our friends South Korea and Japan."