S. Korea sees no sign of imminent NK rocket launch

September 24, 2015

SEOUL (Yonhap) — North Korea is seeking to launch a satellite near a key anniversary next month, but there is no sign of an imminent rocket launch, a South Korean government source said Thursday.

U.S. cable news network CNN released an exclusive interview with senior officials of North Korea’s space agency on Wednesday in which they claimed that the launch is “imminent.” The North said final preparations are under way to send rockets and “multiple satellites” into space, CNN reported.

North Korea is seeking to launch what it claims is a satellite around the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party, which falls on Oct. 10. Outside experts view it as a cover for ballistic missile tests.

But a government source said that there is no sign of an impending launch at the North’s rocket launch facility in Dongchang-ri on its west coast.

“The movement of people and equipment has not increased when compared with last year,” said the source, asking not to be named.

North Korea is seen as having completed the upgrade of its rocket launch facility, which experts say can be used for the launch of long-range missiles twice the size of the 30-meter Unha-3 that was sent into orbit in December 2012.

Covers have been draped around the gantry and the railway station in Dongchang-ri, to which newly-made rockets would be moved from a factory in Pyongyang, the source added. A railway has been laid from the station to the launching site.

North Korea has reiterated its resolve to launch a satellite, calling it a sovereign right, in a show of defiance against growing international calls against the provocation.

South Korea, the U.S. and China have warned that North Korea’s missile launch would be a grave violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions banning its nuclear and missile tests.