North Korea says it will attack the Japanese military and "major targets," if Japan shoots down a rocket Pyongyang plans to launch in the coming days, North Korea's state-run news service, KCNA, reported Thursday.
Japan recently deployed its missile defense system in anticipation of North Korea's planned rocket launch.
"If Japan recklessly 'intercepts' [North Korea's] satellite for peaceful purposes, the [Korean People's Army] will mercilessly deal deadly blows not only at the already deployed intercepting means but at major targets," KCNA reported.
Japan recently mobilized its missile defense system in response to the planned North Korean launch, Japanese officials said. The move, noteworthy for a country with a pacifist constitution, is aimed at shooting down any debris from the launch that might fall into Japanese territory.
U.S. Navy ships capable of shooting down ballistic missiles have also been moved to the Sea of Japan, a Navy spokesman said.
The threat of retaliation comes as North Korea has begun fueling its long-range rocket, according to a senior U.S. military official familiar with the latest U.S. intelligence on the matter.
The fueling signals that the country could be in the final stages of what North Korea has said will be the launch of a satellite into space as early as this weekend, the senior U.S. military official said Wednesday.
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