North notifies of rocket trajectory
North Korea has notified the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of the flight path and other details of its planned rocket launch scheduled for later this month, the United Nations maritime agency said yesterday.
According to the London-based agency, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it will launch its long-range rocket between next Monday and Dec. 22, sometime between 7 a.m. and noon, and provided a list of coordinates where debris could fall.
The latest move came after Pyongyang announced Saturday it will launch a rocket carrying a “working satellite” within the 13-day window, in defiance of international calls to drop the plan seen as a cover for testing the country’s long-range ballistic missile technology.
According to the notice, the first stage of the rocket is expected to fall into the Yellow Sea, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) west of Buan in North Jeolla, while the second stage should fall in waters about 136 kilometers east of the Philippines. The rocket cover is expected to drop about 88 kilometers west of the southern island of Jeju, if all three stages successfully separate.
Pyongyang had already notified the trajectory to its neighbors, including Japan, China and the Philippines, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.
If it goes ahead, it will be the second rocket launch attempt under leader Kim Jong-un, who took power following the death of his father Kim Jong-il nearly a year ago.
While the last launch in April ended in failure, many experts question whether the isolated communist nation has accumulated the technology to upgrade an earlier version of a rocket fired three years ago.
According to military officials in Seoul, the Unha-2 rocket, which was fired by the North from Musudan-ri in April 2009, flew about 3,800 kilometers to land in the Pacific Ocean. If the Unha-3 rocket, the latest version, flies more than 4,000 kilometers, experts say Pyongyang will be considered to have come near to developing intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, allowing for missile launches of more than 5,500 kilometers.