SEOUL Dec 10 North Korea is moving a new rocket
component to its missile test site to replace a faulty stage
that has delayed its planned launch of a long range rocket and
is likely to still go ahead with a launch in December, a South
Korean newspaper reported on Monday.
North Korea's state media announced at the weekend that the
launch of the rocket carrying what it called a scientific
satellite may have to be delayed without disclosing the reasons.
A trailer carrying a new third stage rocket was seen by
satellite on Saturday being moved from a missile plant in
Pyongyang to the Tongchang-ri missile launch site, South Korea's
Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted a government source as saying.
"From the reading of satellite images, it's definite the
North delayed the missile launch because of problems with the
third stage rocket," the source was quoted as saying.
"The possibility the North will go ahead with the launch
before Dec. 22 as announced is high."
Officials at South Korea's spy agency and military declined
to confirm the report, citing their policy of not commenting on
intelligence related matters.
It is impossible to verify events inside the secretive North
which is one of the world's most closed states that tightly
controls news and information about its military and its
The North is believed to be developing an intercontinental
missile with a range of more than 6,700 km which would have the
capacity to hit the continental United States, a move that would
dramatically increase its diplomatic clout.
North Korea has said it would launch a rocket to put a
working satellite into space between Dec. 10 and 22 from its
test ground located in the western region near its border with
Analysts said the timing was picked to mark the first
anniversary of the death of the North's former leader Kim
Jong-il, although it also coincides with elections in South
Korea and Japan.
The planned launch has been condemned by South Korea, Japan
and the United States, all of which call it a disguised test of
a long-range missile being developed to carry nuclear arsenal.
An earlier launch in April failed minutes after blast off
which the North admitted in a rare admission of a embarrassing
North Korea is banned from carrying out any missile or
nuclear related activities by U.N. resolutions imposed in 2006
and 2009 after conducting nuclear and missile tests.
Pyongyang says it has a right to develop a space programme.
(Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park; Editing by Michael