North Korea Puts Rocket Into Place, Nuclear Test Worries Voiced By Surrounding Nations

North Korea has officially moved a long-range rocket into place for launch, raising worries that the country is planning to violate UN sanctions by launching a Unha-3 rocket equipped with a nuclear warhead.

Officials in Pyongyang claim that the launch will carry a new satellite, although South Korean officials claim that satellite images point to a nuclear test. Satellite imagery shows piles of earth and sand outside of a tunnel entrance at the same Punggye-ri site where nuclear tests where carried out under the leadership of Kim Jong-il in 2006 and 2009.

According to the AFP news agency:

“Recent satellite images led us to conclude the North has been secretly digging a new underground tunnel in the nuclear test site… besides two others where the previous tests were conducted.”

Western journalists have recently been allowed to tour North Korea’s missile sites as the countries leadership attempts to show the rest of the world that its rocket program is a legitimate part of its countries goal to launch satellites and perform research.

Officials in North Korea have also tried to ease tensions by pointing the rockets to the south to ensure they don’t fly over the main islands in Japan.

Even if a nuclear warhead is not attached to the Unha-3 rocket it has raised the ire of various nations who fear that the test could be a method for North Korea to test a long-range rocket for more deadly means at a later time.

Pyongyang in February had agreed to accept US food aid at which point they would freeze missile tests and nuclear activities, with this new launch imminent the United States has put that deal on hold.

The countries leaders have claimed that the launch is meant for “peaceful purposes” in celebration of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-sung.

Japan and South Korea have promised to shoot down the rocket should it fly over their countries.

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