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N. Korea may be able to attack with sarin-tipped missiles: Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that North
Korea may already possess the ability to attack with missiles tipped
with warheads containing the deadly chemical agent sarin.

Abe's remark in a parliamentary committee meeting comes as
Japan's ally the United States has deployed an aircraft carrier and
accompanying battle ships near the Korean Peninsula in a show of
force amid signs North Korea may conduct another nuclear test.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has said all
options, including military action, are "on the table" to prevent
further provocation by Pyongyang.

It also follows Japan's support for what its officials have
described as Washington's "resolve to never tolerate the
proliferation and use of chemical weapons" over a U.S. missile strike
in Syria last week in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons
by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Abe has drawn a link between the developments in Syria and North
Korea, saying last week Japan "highly appreciates" the Trump
administration's commitment to maintaining global order at a time
when "the threat from weapons of mass destruction is also growing
more serious in East Asia."

Asked to explain the basis for Abe's remark, the Japanese
government's top spokesman said later Thursday that North Korea "has
several facilities capable of producing chemical weapons."

"(The country) is thought to already possess a significant
quantity of chemical weapons," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
told a press conference.

The government held a meeting of the National Security Council
Thursday afternoon to analyze the latest information on North Korea's
movements, Suga said.

"(The council) discussed Japan's response plan in light of that
analysis and affirmed that we will give every effort to gathering
information, alertness and surveillance to prepare ourselves for
provocative acts by North Korea," he said.

The production, stockpiling and use of sarin, a potent nerve
agent, are banned by a convention on chemical weapons that came into
force in 1997. The substance was used by a Japanese religious cult in
a deadly attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995. (April 13)