February 03, 2016 09:08
North Korea has notified international organizations of a plan to launch a space rocket carrying a satellite into orbit, Kyodo News reported Tuesday.
The launch is widely seen as a veiled test of intercontinental ballistic missile technology.
The International Maritime Organization confirmed it received notice from North Korea "regarding the launch of earth observation satellite 'Kwangmyongsong' between 8-25 February."
A government source here said the likeliest date is former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's birthday on Feb. 16.
A Japanese government official said the North notified international organizations that the launch would occur between 7 a.m. and noon on the day of the launch.
It will be the North's second launch of a space rocket since 2012. The first rocket was also supposed to carry a communication satellite dubbed Kwangmyongsong-3 into orbit, but the satellite was probably a dummy.
The North announced the launch plan the very day when chief Chinese nuclear negotiator Wu Dawei was visiting Pyongyang. "Wu probably visited Pyongyang to persuade the North to abandon the plan," a diplomatic source speculated.
The launch would challenge the international community head-on again just over a month after it violated the UN Security Council resolutions by conducting a nuclear test.
It is unclear how far preparations have progressed.
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