Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

North Korean Missile Plan Suggested by Satellite Data

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

North Korean Missile Plan Suggested by Satellite Data

Article excerpt

Activity is increasing at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station in North Korea, just as South Korea is preparing for a presidential election and Japan is ready to hold elections for its lower house.

North Korea has stepped up what could be preparations to launch a new rocket from its northwestern launching station in defiance of a ban by the United Nations, the satellite operator DigitalGlobe said Tuesday, citing recent satellite imagery of the facility.

The increased activities at the Tongchang-ri launching site in North Korea came months after the Unha 3 rocket, launched from the same site in April, disintegrated shortly after takeoff and failed to put what North Korea claimed was a scientific satellite into orbit.

The United States and its allies condemned it as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that banned North Korea from testing technology that could be used to develop long-range ballistic missiles.

The April launching led to the collapse of a February deal under which Washington promised to ship humanitarian aid in return for North Korea's promise to suspend nuclear and missile tests, as well as uranium enrichment, and allow U.N. monitors back into its main nuclear complex. North Korea has since vowed to continue to launch rockets carrying satellites.

In a post on its Web site, DigitalGlobe cited satellite imagery taken Friday to report "a marked increase in activity" in the North Korean launching site, situated on the country's west coast near China.

"This activity is consistent with launch preparations as witnessed prior to" the failed April launching, it said. "Given the observed level of activity noted of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidizer tanks -- should North Korea desire - - it could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks."

North Korea, which carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, considers itself a nuclear power. …

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