Fuel injected into rocket - North Korea
11 April 2012, 11:11
Pyongyang - Isolated North Korea said on Wednesday
it was injecting fuel into a long-range rocket "as we speak" ahead of a
launch condemned by its neighbours and the West as a disguised
long-range ballistic missile test.
The launch, set to take place
between Thursday and next Monday, has prompted neighbours such as the
Philippines to re-route their air traffic just in case. Regional powers
also worry it could be the prelude to another nuclear test, a pattern
the hermit state set in 2009.
Japan said it would shoot down the rocket if it crossed its airspace.
launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea says will merely put a
weather satellite into space, breaches UN sanctions imposed to prevent
Pyongyang from developing a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.
coincides with the 100th birthday celebrations of the founder of North
Korea, Kim Il-sung, whose grandson, Kim Jong-un, now rules. Kim Il-sung
died in 1994.
It will also follow Wednesday's annual Workers'
Party Congress which is expected to appoint Kim Jong-un as Secretary
General of the Workers' Party of Korea, North Korea's top post held by
his late father, Kim Jong-il.
"I think the fuel injection will be
completed at an appropriate date," Paek Chang-ho, head of the satellite
control centre of the Korean Committee of Space Technology, told a
group of foreign journalists in the North Korea capital, Pyongyang.
would not comment on when the fuel injection would be complete. "And as
for the exact timing of the launch, it will be decided by my
superiors", Paek said.
South Korea, which remains technically at
war with the North after their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce
rather than a peace treaty, warned Pyongyang it would deepen its
isolation if it went ahead with the launch.
Security sources in
Seoul, citing satellite images, have said that North Korea, which walked
out of "six-party" disarmament talks three years ago, is also preparing
a third nuclear test following the launch, something it did in 2009,
and a move bound to trigger further condemnation and isolation.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that history pointed to
"additional provocations" from North Korea after the launch, apparently a
reference to a nuclear test.
"This launch will give credence to
the view that North Korean leaders see improved relations with the
outside world as a threat to their system," she told cadets at the US
Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
"And recent history strongly suggests that additional provocations may follow."
She also called on China to do more to ensure regional stability.
impoverished North Korea's only major ally, on Tuesday reiterated its
pleas for calm and said it had "repeatedly expressed its concern and
anxiety about the developments", foreign ministry spokesperson Liu
Weimin told a press briefing in Beijing.