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To shoot down or not NoKor missile?

WASHINGTON (AFP) – North Korea’s latest missile launch over Japan set sirens blaring and triggered alerts telling people to seek shelter – yet neither Tokyo nor Washington tried to shoot the rocket down.

The test follows one in August that saw another rocket soar over Hokkaido. In that case too, much-vaunted Japanese and US missile-intercept capabilities were not used.

Now some in the United States are wondering why all this sophisticated weaponry isn’t being used, especially as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un accelerates toward his goal of building a nuclear missile capable of striking the United States.

“The next time the North Koreans launch a rocket, especially one that will traverse over our ally Japan, I would hope that we shoot it down as a message to the North Koreans and to other people, like in Japan, who are counting on us,’’ Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher told lawmakers this week.

“Unless we demonstrate we’re willing to use force, there’s no reason for them to believe we will.’’

The US Pacific Command confirmed Friday’s rocket was an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), and Seoul’s defense ministry said it probably traveled around 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles), hurtling to a maximum altitude of 770 kilometers.

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