North Korea rocket launch `may be delayed`

North Korea’s launch attempt in April failed badly earning Pyongyang international condemnation.

Updated: Dec 10, 2012, 13:28 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Pyongyang: North Korean officials on Saturday hinted at the postponement of a long-range rocket launch that was earlier scheduled to take place between Dec 10 and Dec 22.

There was no word on why the launch timing was being “readjusted”. Officials didn’t clarify whether technical snags or any diplomatic reason caused the delay.

Though a satellite image taken on Dec 4 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.

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.

Earlier, North Korea’s launch attempt in April 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.

Russia and China on Monday urged the Hermit Kingdom to refrain from the launch warning that it would breach the restrictions imposed by the United Nations.

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.

Witjh Agency Inputs