North Korean rocket could head over NZ

Last updated 14:01 03/12/2012

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A rocket carrying a North Korean satellite could well head over southern New Zealand later this month - although authorities in Pyongyang are not saying exactly where they plan to fire it.

On the previous two occasions the Unha-3 or "galaxy" rocket has not managed to clear North Korean air space before breaking up.

But last week North Korea announced it would try again, sparking angry reaction from South Korea and Japan, as well as the United States and China.

Data released by the North Koreans over the weekend says they will use Unha-3 to launch a wangmyongsong or "bright star" satellite into polar orbit.

South Korea's Yonhap News agency yesterday said that North Korea has notified neighbours including Japan of the trajectory of the rocket.

"The North has notified aviation authorities in nations including Japan that could come under potential danger ... of the timing and expected path (of the rocket)," the agency quoted an unnamed senior
Seoul official as saying.

It will be launched "southward" from the Sohae base near the Chinese border.

Analysts say if it survives its early launch it will head southward over part of the Philippines and toward Australia, passing over the Tasman Sea.

The north says its flight path will mean debris will not fall onto neighbouring countries.

They have not said when they will launch it other than between December 10 and 22.
Over the weekend Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the North Korean announcement was extremely disappointing and potentially destabilising.

"New Zealand considers the use of ballistic missile technology to conduct the proposed launch to be inconsistent with UN Security Council resolutions," he said.

"The Government strongly urges North Korea to abandon its launch plan, work constructively with its neighbours and the international community, and stop its nuclear weapons programme."

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