N.Korea Tells Int'l Agency of Rocket Launch Plan

      March 19, 2012 09:10

      North Korea has told the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization that its first stage of a rocket it is to fire next month will land in waters 140 km west of Byeonsan Peninsula and the second 190 km east of the Philippines.

      The rocket is ostensibly to carry a satellite into orbit to mark the centenary of nation founder Kim Il-sung in a plan that has drawn condemnation from the international community because it violates restrictions of North Korean missile activity.

      The first stage of the rocket will drop around 450 km from a launch pad in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, and the second one will drop somewhere about 3,000 km away.

      The third stage is expected to carry the payload for another 1,000 km using its own booster rockets. The waters where the first stage will fall are on the open sea and neither North Korean nor Chinese territorial waters. The closest coast is China's Weihai on the eastern tip of the Shandong Peninsula around 250 km away.

      But the government here worries that the first stage could fall on land. A senior government official said, "Given the level of North Korean technology, we cannot rule out that the rocket will veer off its scheduled trajectory and fall on the South Korean coast."

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