N Korea missile 'aimed at area off Hawaii'

TOKYO- A North Korean missile launched on Wednesday was aimed at an area of the ocean close to Hawaii, a Japanese newspaper has reported.

Experts estimated the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile to have a range of up to 6000 km (3730 miles), putting Alaska within its reach.

Wednesday's launch apparently failed shortly after take-off and the missile landed in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, a few hundred kilometres from the launch pad.

But data from US and Japanese Aegis radar-equipped destroyers and surveillance aircraft on the missile's angle of take-off and altitude indicated that it was heading for waters near Hawaii, the Sankei Shimbun reported, citing multiple sources in the United States and Japan.

North Korea may have targeted Hawaii to show the United States that it was capable of landing a missile there, or because it is home to the headquarters of the US Pacific fleet, the paper said.

An alternative explanation might be that a missile could accidentally hit land if fired towards Alaska, it said.

A separate report in the Mainichi Shimbun daily cited US and Japanese government officials as saying a piece of the Taepodong-2 missile fell off immediately after take-off, strengthening the view that the launch was a failure.

North Korea launched at least six missiles - including the Taepodong-2 - early on Wednesday and fired off a seventh some 12 hours later.

It has vowed more tests and threatened to use force if the international community tries to stop it.

Japan - supported by the US - has circulated a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that condemned the launches and would bar any nation from transferring funds, material and technology for North Korea's missile or nuclear program.

The document demands North Korea halt "the development, testing, deployment and proliferation of ballistic missiles," return to talks on its nuclear program and stop all work on nuclear-related activities.

It also deplores North Korea's role as the "world's leading proliferate of ballistic missiles and related technology."

However, Russia and China - which have veto power on the 15-nation council - prefer a policy statement that might condemn Wednesday's barrage of missile tests by Pyongyang but does not invoke any action.

China has said its top negotiator on the nuclear crisis will visit Pyongyang next week.

- REUTERS

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