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North Korean long-range missile aimed at Australia, US says


Replicas of a North Korean Scud-B missile (C-behind) and South Korean Hawk surface-to-air missiles (foreground) are seen at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on February 17, 2011.


Jung Yeon-Je

A long-range missile North Korea plans to launch next month will be aimed towards South-East Asia and Australia, a senior US official has warned Canberra.

The Fairfax media cited Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, as saying that the US believed the North Korean missile will land in an area between Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

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Previously, North Korean rockets have been launched over Japan.

Campbell delivered the message in person to Foreign Minister Bob Carr, reportedly saying: "If the missile test proceeds as North Korea has indicated, our judgment is that it will impact in an area roughly between Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

"We have weighed into each of these countries and asked them to make clear that such a test is provocative and this plan should be discontinued."

The US, Australia and other nations fear Pyongyang wants to test long-range missiles that could eventually deliver nuclear warheads.

The UN has barred North Korea from carrying out such tests.

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Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging North Korea to reconsider the April launch, which if successful, will put a satellite into orbit.

Ban is expected to raise North Korea's rocket launch at a meeting of world leaders in South Korea next week to discuss nuclear security, which Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend.

Ban made the comments on Saturday during a meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Ban arrived in Seoul earlier in the day to attend next week's Nuclear Security Summit, the Associated Press reported.

Carr, the Australian Foreign Minister, told Fairfax the launch would be "in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions," adding that: "The North Korean nuclear and long-range missile plans represent a real and credible threat to the security of the region and to Australia."

A spokesman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government had registered its concerns with the North Korean ambassador to Australia in Jakarta on Friday.

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