North Korea considers delaying rocket launch

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This Dec. 4, 2012 satellite image taken by GeoEye and annotated and distributed by North Korea Tech and 38 North shows snow covering the Sohae launching station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, including the path where trailers would be used to move the rocket stages from the assembly building to the launch pad in preparation for a Dec. 10-22 launch. New satellite images show that heavy snowfall may have slowed North Korean rocket launch preparations but that Pyongyang could still be ready for liftoff starting Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. This image was shared with the AP by the 38 North and North Korea Tech websites, which collaborate on analysis of the satellite imagery. (AP Photo/GeoEye via North Korea Tech and 38 North)

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea may postpone the controversial launch of a long-range rocket that had been slated for liftoff as early as Monday, North Korean state media said Sunday.

Scientists have pushed forward with preparations for the launch from a west coast site but are considering “readjusting” the timing, a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology told North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

It was unclear whether diplomatic intervention or technical glitches were behind the possible delay. The brief statement cited “some reasons” but provided no further details.

North Korea announced earlier this month that it would launch a three-stage rocket mounted with a satellite from its Sohae station southeast of Sinuiju sometime between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22.

Pyongyang calls it a peaceful bid to send an observational satellite into space, its second attempt this year.

The United States, Japan, South Korea and others have urged North Korea to refrain from carrying out the launch, calling it a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions on nuclear activity because the rocket shares the same technology used for firing a long-range missile.

China noted its “concern” and called for calm while citing North Korea’s right to develop its space program.

Past launches have earned North Korea international condemnation and a host of sanctions.

Commercial satellite imagery taken by GeoEye on Dec. 4 and shared Friday with The Associated Press by the 38 North and North Korea Tech websites showed the Sohae site covered with snow.

The road from the main assembly building to the launch pad showed no fresh tracks, indicating that the snowfall may have stalled the preparations.

However, analysts believed rocket preparations would have been completed on time for liftoff as early as Monday.

The unexpected launch announcement was issued Dec. 1 as North Koreans began mourning late leader Kim Jong Il, who died on Dec. 17, 2011.

An April launch from the same new launch pad was held on April 13, two days before the centennial of the birth of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. That rocket broke up just seconds after liftoff.

The U.S. and other nations see the launches as covers for illicit tests of missile technology. North Korea has unveiled missiles designed to target U.S. soil, and has tested two atomic bombs in recent years, but has not shown yet that it has mastered the technology for mounting a nuclear warhead to a long-range missile.

Six-nation negotiations to offer North Korea much-needed aid in exchange for nuclear disarmament have been stalled since 2009.

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  • wawa2172

    For those who have seen the movie dictator, a scene where the dictator in a funny statement with his hand covering his lips like a kid shyly laughing while saying the the nuclear weapon was develop for “peaceful purposes”. Oh well, I could hear the north korean dictator saying the same. They cannot be blame though since its neighbor in the south is also armed with nuclear guided missile courtesy of the US of A. Of course we know that the Russian and the Chinese are allied of the North and they are helping the dictator to achieve its purpose of developing weapons of mass distraction. Nuclear arm is power and those who don’t have it seems to be helpless like the Philippines. But who cares about nuclear weapon in this country, Filipinos are peace loving people and we do not need such for peaceful purposes. We cant even afford to buy a new warship much more to build a missile and long range one. Marami tayo sa Bulacan and it is called locally as kwitis. We have to accept it, we can never have a peaceful existence here in earth. Men was designed by God to be independent thinking, even to the point that his creation will be the one to put an end to existence of homo sapiens here in the universe. For peaceful purposes? are you kidding me..what the f….

  • Ayjayar

    Maybe the 6 nations who promised aid to the Nokors in 2009 have INCREASED  the amount?How many times have the world been BLACKMAILED by North Korea, in exchange for a “promise?”

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