BREAKING NEWS
Miner found dead in Waihi goldmine ... Read more
Close

'Technical glitch' hits North Korean rocket

JACK KIM AND JU-MIN PARK
Last updated 08:16 12/12/2012

Relevant offers

World

Murder-accused claims India Chipchase placed his hands around her neck AirAsia, Jetstar flights narrowly avoid collision at Gold Coast Airport Indonesia fast-tracks execution of 14 death row prisoners to anguish of families involved Social media star was murdered by brother due to friends' taunts Palmerston North Afghan community holds candlelight vigil for Kabul 'It could happen to us tomorrow': London police chief on terror attacks Democratic National Convention: President Obama says 'nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president' No-reserve auction could see properties in tiny Queensland town go for $1 How the refugee crisis turned waiters into goatherds on the Greek islands Boris Johnson's cat evicted after sneaking into home of UK prime minister

North Korea has started dismantling a controversial long-range rocket on its launch pad in an apparent move to fix a technical problem but still looks likely to go ahead with the launch according to South Korean news reports and experts.

North Korea says the launch is to put a weather satellite in orbit but critics say it is aimed at nurturing the kind of technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.

When the first reports emerged that the rocket parts were being taken down, there was speculation the North might abandon the launch altogether, but experts said the construction of the rocket meant that it needed to be removed from its gantry.

"For North Korean rockets, it's the only way to repair them because they build the rocket stage by stage," said Kwon Se-jin, a rocket expert at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea.

North Korea said on Monday that the launch window had been extended by a week due to technical problems.

"So as it had announced, if the North has a problem with the first-stage control module, it has to replace it and take down (the rocket) from the top," said Kwon.

The launch has been timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il after a failed launch in April. It also comes as Japan and South Korea, long-time foes of the North, are holding elections.

North Korea is banned from testing missile or nuclear technology under UN sanctions imposed after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear weapons tests, and the United States, South Korea and Japan have condemned the current launch.

Even China, the one major diplomatic backer of isolated and impoverished North Korea, has expressed "deep concern" over the planned launch.

South Korean media reported yesterday (NZ time) that satellite images showed the rocket was being taken down.

"We have captured indications that a part of the rocket is being disassembled from the launch pad in Tongchang-ri," Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean government source as saying.

The name refers to the North's new test site in its western region close to the border with China.

"There is no change to the North's will to fire the rocket," another source was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

Officials at South Korea's military and its foreign and defence ministries could not confirm the reports.

North Korea is assiduous in meeting its international obligations on reporting long-range rocket launches and notified international maritime and aviation bodies of its plans last week.

Ad Feedback

It was impossible to confirm the media reports in what is one of the most closed and secretive states on Earth.

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content