Technical Problem Holds Up N.Korean Rocket Launch

      December 10, 2012 09:33

      Technical problems have apparently held up North Korea's planned rocket launch, and a new third-stage booster was delivered to the launch pad on Saturday. Experts believe preparations for the launch, announced for between Dec. 10 and 22, will resume once the new booster has been put in place.

      The rocket launch is widely believed to be a cover to test long-range missile technology, although the North claims it wants to put a satellite into orbit.

      "Satellite images captured on Saturday show a train carrying a new third-stage booster for the rocket from a missile research facility in Pyongyang to the launch pad in Tongchang-ri," a government source here said Sunday.

      "Satellite images captured on Saturday show a train carrying a new third-stage booster for the rocket from a missile research facility in Pyongyang to the launch pad in Tongchang-ri," a government source here said Sunday.

      The North's official KCNA news agency quoted a spokesman for the country's space committee as saying scientists and technicians "are seriously considering readjusting the launch window for the rocket."

      The South Korean government was looking at various scenarios that could be holding up the launch, from the weather to technological problems or diplomatic pressure from China, but analysis of satellite pictures suggests the problem was with the third-stage booster, the same government source said.

      "There is still a strong chance that the rocket could be launched before Dec. 22," the source added.

      Senior South Korean military brass met Sunday to examine an early response mechanism ahead of the rocket launch.

      Meanwhile, the Navy dispatched three Aegis ships to the West Sea carrying SPY-1D radars capable of tracking projectiles around 1,000 km away.

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