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The Air Self-Defense Force is ready to deploy its Patriot ballistic missile interceptors at short notice in connection with a rumored missile test by North Korea, the top Air Self-Defense Force general said Friday.

“We are now at the stage of collecting and analyzing intelligence, but we are making preparations to swiftly deploy (the interceptors) if the defense minister gives us a deployment order,” ASDF Chief of Staff Gen. Kenichiro Hokazono told a news conference.

Hokazono said units capable of firing Patriot Advanced Capability-3 guided missiles can be moved for deployment within three hours of an order being issued.

On the possibility that North Korea might test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, Hokazono said, “We must make preparations on the assumption that they will do what they said they will.”

After the U.N. Security Council condemned Pyongyang’s April 5 rocket launch, the North said it would take “self-defense measures” unless the council apologizes.

The country has since followed through on its threats by conducting a second underground nuclear test on May 25 and is now believed to be preparing to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.

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