April 23, 2012 09:54
North Korea will launch another rocket after a launch failed on April 13, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin claimed Friday. "It is hard to predict" when, Kim told reporters, but "we've detected signs" of another rocket launch.
After the failed launch, the North Korean Foreign Ministry in a statement on April 17 vowed to "continue to launch peaceful satellites essential to the country's economic development." The North's Outer Space Technology Committee last Thursday claimed to have found a "detailed scientific reason" for the failure of the last launch.
Two rockets were taken from a missile plant in Sanum-dong, Pyongyang to the Tongchang-ri launch site on March 24, according to the South Korean government.
But an expert said it is unlikely the North has identified the reason for the failure. "It takes 10 to 12 months to analyze causes of the launch failure and find solutions," said the expert, who works for a government-funded think tank. "But there is a chance that the North Korean regime will attempt a new rocket launch sooner to prop up the damaged image of leader Kim Jong-un in the wake of the failed launch."
Meanwhile, a government official here claimed the North has finished preparations for another nuclear test at a site in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province.
"A heap of soil to fill up a shaft has disappeared recently from near the test site," the source added. "It's highly likely that the North has finished installing a nuclear weapon inside the shaft and covered it."
Since last year, South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies have calculated progress by taking satellite images of the amount of soil heaped near the shaft. "It's unclear whether they've completed the final phase, including installing cables. Technically speaking, it's possible for the North to conduct a nuclear test within two weeks," the official said.
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