North Korean rocket launch confirmed by Seoul

  • 04/02/2016

The South Korean Defense Ministry has confirmed that North Korea will launch its space rocket from the northwest coast of the country.

The ministry also confirmed that the South Korean armed forces are prepared to detect and intercept the rocket or its fragments when they reach the airspace, territory or waters of the country.

Pyongyang is expected to launch the rocket southwards from Sohae, which lies in the northeast of the country near the border with China, so the possibility of some fragments falling on South Korea in case of any error cannot be ruled out.

The Japanese news network NHK reported that there have been observations of the movement of a mobile launch pad to another North Korean base in Tonghae in the northeast, raising the possibility of additional smaller missile launches.

However, the Defense Ministry in Seoul said that such information "has not been verified."

North Korea on Tuesday notified United Nations agencies of its intention to launch an aerial observation satellite between February 8-25.

The US and Japan joined South Korea in urging North Korea to cancel the operation suspecting it to be a covert long-range missile test that would violate UN resolutions imposed against the Communist country due to the nuclear tests and missile launches conducted by it in recent years.

China, North Korea's historic and primary ally, also requested Kim Jong-Un's regime to act "with caution" and avoid actions that can increase tension, while recognising at the same time that it can do nothing to prevent the launch.

While Pyongyang asserts its right to peaceful space development, the majority of the international community considers its rocket technology as being similar to the ones used in intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The announcement of the launch of a new satellite comes after Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6, an action the UN Security Council condemned and for which it is considering imposing additional sanctions against the country.