In the News – N. Korea likely to launch rocket on eve of milestone anniversary
SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) — North Korea did not launch a long-range rocket in its stated time window Thursday, the first day of five that Pyongyang has designated for the controversial lift-off.
North Korea fueled the Unha-3 rocket Wednesday that Pyongyang claims will carry an earth observation satellite into orbit as part of its peaceful space program.
A South Korean official said North Korea could launch the rocket at any date, noting a key factor wil be the weather conditions around the launch pad in the country’s northwest.
Skies will be cloudy with weak winds near the launch site until Sunday and rains are expected Monday, said Cho Nam-san, an analyst of Korea Meteorological Administration.
Many analysts believe the lift-off could come Saturday on the eve of the centennial birth celebrations of the North’s late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.
Paek Chang-ho, head of the satellite control center of the North’s Korean Committee of Space Technology, has said the exact timing of the launch will be decided by his superiors, the Reuters news agency reported Wednesday.
North Korea’s state media remained silent on the imminent rocket launch.
The North said previously it would launch the rocket between 7 a.m. and 12 noon sometime during the five-day window that ends Monday.
In 2009, the North launched a rocket around 11:30 a.m. At that time, the North said it had successfully put a satellite into orbit. However, Seoul and Washington said the launch was meant to test Pyongyang’s ballistic missile technology and that no object entered orbit.
South Korea, the United States and other regional powers say the upcoming launch is also a cover for testing the North’s ballistic missile technology, in violation of U.N. resolutions. They have warned of unspecified repercussions if the North goes ahead with its launch.
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