North Korea is pressing ahead with preparation for a long-range rocket launch after extending its liftoff window by another week until December 29 because of technical problems.
According to Reuters, the totalitarian country is believed to be disassembling its long-range rocket, a senior military source in Seoul said Tuesday, a day after Pyongyang announced it will extend its 13-day launch window due to technical problems.
According to analysis of the latest satellite image, scientists and workers have begun taking apart the three-stage rocket from the launch pad at the Dongchang-ri site in the country’s northwest.
On Monday, an unidentified spokesman for the North’s Korean Committee of Space Technology told state media that scientists found a technical problem in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket. The statement said technicians were moving ahead with final preparations for the liftoff. However, because of the cold winter and bad weather conditions, the rocket launch could be delayed again.
North Korea says the launch is a peaceful bid to advance its space program, and it is a fulfillment of the last wish of the country’s late leader Kim Jong Il, who died on December 17 last year.
It’s North Korea’s second attempt this year, and the fifth since 1998, to launch a rocket that the United Nations, Washington, Seoul, and others call a cover 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 more sanctions. The rocket North Korea launched in April broke apart seconds after liftoff.
North Korea has unveiled missiles designed to target US soil and has tested two atomic devices in recent years. It has not yet proven to have mastered the technology for mounting a nuclear warhead to a long-range missile.
According to the Washington Post, the US, Japan, and South Korea say they’ll seek U.N. Security Council action if the launch goes ahead in defiance of existing resolutions. The council condemned April’s launch and ordered seizure of assets of three North Korean state companies linked to financing, exporting and procuring weapons and missile technology.
All governments are watching the progress closely with South Korea deploying a destroyer to the Yellow Sea, the United States moving ships with ballistic missile defense capabilities toward the region, and Japan keeping an eye on the region.