SEOUL Dec 11 North Korea has taken down part of
a controversial long-range rocket on its launch pad in an
apparent move to fix a technical problem, South Korean news
reports said on Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear whether scientists were simply
trying to fix a problem discovered during preparations or
whether they were considering cancelling the operation
altogether, Yonhap news agency quoted a government source as
North Korea says the launch is to put a weather satellite in
space but critics say the rocket is aimed at nurturing the kind
of technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range
North Korea is banned from conducting missile and
nuclear-related tests under U.N. sanctions imposed after its
2006 and 2009 nuclear tests. A rocket launch in April ended in
failure and North Korea had already extended the launch window
until Dec 29 from Dec 22 due to "technical problems".
"We have captured indications that a part of the rocket is
being disassembled from the launch pad in Tongchang-ri," Yonhap
quoted the government source as saying.
The name refers to the North's new test site in its western
region close to the border with China.
"There is no change to the North's will to fire the rocket,"
another source was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
Officials at South Korea's military and its foreign and
defence ministries could not confirm the reports.
The planned launch date window comes close to the first
anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il and as
elections loom in South Korea and Japan.
The launch has drawn criticism from South Korea, Russia,
Japan and the United States as well as NATO and the United