N Korea to ‘launch’ long-range missile

N Korea to ‘launch’ long-range missile

SEOUL - Agence France-Presse
N Korea to ‘launch’ long-range missile

North Korean soldiers pledge to retaliate if South continues to provoke Pyongyang. Satellite images show that North prepares a long-range missile test. AP photo

North Korea could carry out a long-range missile test in the next three weeks, with new satellite images showing increased launch site activity, according to satellite operator DigitalGlobe Inc.
The global provider of commercial high-resolution earth imagery said Nov. 26 that the new pictures showed significant movement at North Korea’s Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station. “Given the observed level of activity noted, of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidizer tanks, should North Korea desire, it could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks,” it said.

DigitalGlobe said the type of activity was consistent with preparations observed before North Korea’s failed launch of its Unha-3 missile in April. Pyongyang insisted the April launch bid was aimed at putting a satellite in orbit, but the U.S. and U.N. denounced the mission as a disguised ballistic missile test. The test put a halt to international efforts to engage the isolated nation, with the U.S. calling off plans to deliver badly needed food assistance.

Before elections in South

Any test in the next three weeks would cast a heavy cloud over South Korea’s presidential election on Dec. 19. There have been widespread concerns in Seoul that the North would seek to influence the ballot by conducting a missile launch or provoking a border clash.

The Japanese Asahi Shimbun daily had reported last week that the U.S. had already warned Japan and South Korea that an imminent test was possible. Last month, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said satellite images showed North Korea had conducted motor tests at the Sohae site to improve its long-range missiles.