'North Korea upgrading rocket launch site'



Washington: A US research institute says North Korea is upgrading one of its two major missile launch sites, apparently to handle much bigger rockets.

Design features of a new launch pad under construction at the northeastern site of Tonghae also suggest Iran may be helping North Korea.

38 North, the website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, published its assessment today based on commercial satellite images, the latest taken last month.

The analysis also identifies activity at an older launch pad at Tonghae, last used for a long-range rocket in 2009, but says it's unclear if that indicates preparations for another launch there.

A successful satellite launch in December and a nuclear test on Tuesday have intensified international concern over Pyongyang's weapons development.

"Countries that have a track record of past terrorist activity that have been removed from the list are regularly reviewed to check whether that kind of behaviour has resumed," Nuland said.

"With regard to North Korea, we regularly review the intelligence for resumption of terrorist activity," she said in response to a question.

As a matter of US law, in order for a country to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Secretary of State has to determine that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism, she said.

"So these designations are made after careful review of the record of the country in question. We regularly review our intelligence on North Korea to determine whether the facts would put them back in that category. I don't, obviously, have anything to announce in terms of a change of posture today," she said.

PTI