Japanese source says North preparing a missile launch

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Japanese source says North preparing a missile launch

The South Korean government is closely watching North Korea’s movements on missile activities following a report yesterday that the communist regime is preparing to launch a long-range missile after its latest attempt in April, this year.

Yesterday, citing sources in Japan, the U.S. and South Korea, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported that North Korea “is preparing to launch another long-range ballistic missile, possibly by the end of the month.”

According to the newspaper, cargo that appeared to be missile parts was transferred in early November from a weapons factory in the Sanumdong district of Pyongyang to an assembly plant at the missile launch base at Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province in northwestern North Korea.

It also reported that the U.S. government studied closely the captured satellite image and presumed that the shape of the container was similar to that found in April when the North launched missiles. The paper also said Pyongyang can be technically ready to fire off a missile in late November at the earliest.

Responding to the report, Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of National Defense noted that a satellite used by both the United States and South Korea picked up images related to missile preparations in North Korea.

The Seoul government, however, did not officially confirm nor deny if the movements would lead to an additional missile launch.

“We cannot officially give confirmation,” said a high-level official from the Foreign Ministry.

“What we can say is that South Korea and the U.S. constantly share [satellite information related to the North].”

Being cautious, the official also said that “The launch pad hasn’t been set up yet so it still needs to be confirmed.

“We will have to wait and see because the North hasn’t informed the international community, including the International Maritime Organization, of its plans [as it usually does].”

In April, Pyongyang unsuccessfully launched a rocket, which was widely seen by others as a failed attempt for a long-range missile test. The move sparked strong condemnation from the international community.

Recently, in an address to the United Nations, North Korea has reiterated its plan to continue launches of “working satellites.”

By Lee Eun-joo, Chang Se-jeong [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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