US satellites have picked up signs that North Korea is preparing to launch a long-range missile, a Japanese newspaper reported today. North Korea moved missile parts from its military factory in Pyongyang to a launch pad in Tongchang-ri in the country’s far northwest early November. The US has already informed its counterparts in Japan and South Korea about the move.
The developments came after North Korea carried out a failed rocket launch in April in what the communist state said was an attempt to put a satellite into orbit from the same launch pad. Images of the shipment recently taken by US satellites were similar to one used in the April launch. Pyongyang is technically ready to launch a missile late November, but an immediate launch is unlikely ahead of South Korea’s presidential election next month.
North Korea has not announced any plans to launch a rocket. Immediate confirmation by the Japanese government was not available. In Seoul, a South Korean defence ministry spokesman said it could comment on any matter of intelligence, while a presidential Blue House spokeswoman said she had no information.