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North Korea ready for satellite launch

world Updated: Mar 31, 2012 00:15 IST
AP
North Korea

A new satellite imagery appears to show preparations beginning for a long-range rocket launch in North Korea despite international objections.

The image from a privately operated satellite was taken on Wednesday at the Tongchang-ri site, where North Korea says it plans to launch the rocket between 12 and 16 April.

"The image shows not only that the launch is going ahead but the preparations seem to be on schedule for the planned launch dates," said Joel Wit, visiting fellow at the institute and editor of 38 North, its website on North Korea.

North Korea says the launch is to fire an observation satellite into orbit and mark the centennial of the birth of the nation's founder, Kim Il-sung. The US says it is a cover to test long-range missile technology and violates UN resolutions.

Barack Obama appealed to North Korean leaders to abandon the rocket plan but was rebuffed by the North.

If the launch does go ahead it will terminate a 29 February accord between the longtime adversaries, under which the North agreed to nuclear concessions and a moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear tests in exchange for food aid.

The US says the plans to provide the food to the impoverished communist nation are already on hold.