November 28, 2012 09:27
There is a chance that North Korea will announce the test-launch of a space rocket as early as next month, a senior South Korean government official claimed Tuesday.
"The North will likely notify the International Maritime Organization of the scheduled launch date" once South Korea attempts another launch of its own homegrown space rocket, he added.
The North Korean rocket is widely suspected to be a cover to test ballistic missile technology.
Earlier this year, North Korea gave the International Civil Aviation Organization about one month's notice before it attempted to launch a rocket on April 14. The regime claimed the aim was to put a satellite into orbit, but the launch failed.
"We've detected signs of personnel preparing for a rocket launch near the launch pad in Tongchang-ri after the fuselage was moved there from a military factory near Pyongyang early this month," a senior South Korean military source said.
He added it is "highly likely" that the North will launch the rocket in December or January.
U.S. commercial monitoring agency DigitalGlobe in a statement Monday agreed. "Given the observed level of activity... of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidiser tanks, [North Korea] could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks," it said.
Meanwhile, in a session of military commanders chaired by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin Tuesday, officials said that North Korean troops have stepped up summer drills including maritime stealth infiltration training as well as their ongoing winter exercises.
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