North Korea appeared to have deployed fuel trucks at a launch site. The launch, which the country has indicated would be of a satellite, could happen as early as tomorrow. However, there are speculations that North Korea might be testing another nuclear weapon under the guise of an orbital launch.
North Korea officially brought forward a time frame for the launch of a rocket. Satellite images of North Korea's Sohae rocket launch site not just show a flurry of activity with workers scurrying about, they also indicate the presence of fuel trucks. It appears the workers are preparing fuel, in a way that's observed when a rocket launch is imminent. This has led world leaders, including the United States to strongly believe that the country is about to launch a rocket.
North Korea isn't denying the rocket launch. In fact, the country had earlier told the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other U.N. agencies it would launch the rocket sometime between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25, reported MSN. Interestingly, the International Telecommunication Union, stated it wasn't made aware of an amended time frame. This indicates North Korea might not have notified all the concerned agencies that it had abruptly brought forward the launch.
North Korea claimed that the rocket will carry an earth observation satellite. However, experts, as well as South Korea and Japan, insist that the country isn't really launching a peaceful satellite, but is more likely to be testing long range ballistic missile. Both the countries feel the launch, which was earlier planned to take place sometime between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25, could happen as early as tomorrow. Additionally, the countries have threatened to destroy any projectile or debris that falls on their territories. The countries think North Korea could attempt to pull off the launch ahead of February 16, the birthday of late dictator Kim Jong Il, the father of current leader Kim Jong Un, reported Ecommerce Journal.
Incidentally, North Korea did successfully place an earth observation satellite in orbit way back in 2012. Back then, the country had used a long-range rocket to achieve the feat. But what raises suspicion is that the satellite images appear to confirm that the country has put a cover on its missile launcher, making the situation inside hard to detect, reported The Inside Korea.
What gives credence to the claims is that satellite imagery confirms the presence of fuel trucks. There appears to be multiple trucks deployed at the launch site. The activity observed also indicates the officials intend to hasten the launch. Commercial satellite images from Wednesday and Thursday show the arrival of tanker trucks at the launch pad, reported Washington-based North Korea-monitoring project 38 North.
"In the past, such activity has occurred one to two weeks prior to a launch event and would be consistent with North Korea's announced launch window."The group, however, muddied the waters by adding the presence of the trucks likely indicated the filling of tanks within bunkers at the site rather than a rocket itself. The fuel that trucks are likely to be filling is a very volatile and combustible substance. Its transportation requires special trucks, which appear different than conventional fuel tankers. Many a times the fuel is pumped in chilled conditions to minimize risk.
North Korea claims as a sovereign nation it has the right to pursue a space program. However the United States claims the rockets that could ferry a satellite could also be used to deploy long range ballistic missiles. As such, the impending launch, for which the fuel trucks have arrived, could be in violation of UN sanctions.
[Photo by Pedro Ugarte/Getty Images]