Seoul: North Korea postponed the launch of a long-range rocket till December 29 due to technical glitches, adding another week of delay to the earlier scheduled period, reports said Monday.
Earlier, on December 1 North Korea announced 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.
But it was announced Sunday that North Korea may delay the liftoff.
As per a statement by the North's Korean Committee of Space Technology, scientists had found a "technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket."
Also a satellite image taken on Dec 4 showed the Sohae site covered with snow, confirming the technical difficulties hindering the rocket launch. This year's winter has seen a stretch of snowy, frigid weather.
The road from the main assembly building to the launch pad showed no fresh tracks, indicating that the snowfall may have stalled the preparations.
Earlier, North Korea’s launch attempt in April this year failed badly earning Pyongyang international condemnation.
Pyongyang calls the rocket launch a peaceful bid to send an observational satellite into space, but other countries especially South Korea, Japan and US suspect that North is trying to pursue illegal missile tests in disguise of peaceful launches.
The United Nations, Washington, Seoul and others call North Korean launches covers meant to test technology for missiles that could be used to strike the United States.
They have warned North Korea to cancel the launch or face a new wave of sanctions.
South Korean officials have accused North Korea of trying to influence the South's presidential election with what they consider provocations meant to put pressure on voters and on the United States as the North seeks concessions.
In recent days, the US said it was moving navy ships into position to track the rocket, and Japan issued an order to its military to shoot down any rocket debris that infringed its territory.
North Korea has capable short- and medium-range missiles, but long-range launches in 1998, 2006, 2009 and in April of this year ended in failure. North Korea is not known to have succeeded in mounting an atomic bomb on a missile but is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen bombs, according to US experts. In 2010 it revealed a uranium enrichment program that could provide a second source of material for nuclear weapons.
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Monday, December 10, 2012, 13:42