North Korea has started fueling a rocket, moving a step closer to its controversial launch mid-April, a Japanese newspaper has reported.
Citing a source close to the North Korean government, the Tokyo Shimbun reported that the rocket is being loaded with liquid fuel.
The US and other world powers have warned Pyongyang against the proposed rocket launch, stating that it is a ballistic missile test in disguise. The North had announced earlier it will launch a weather satellite to mark the centenary celebrations of its founder president Kim-II-Sung in April. Pyongyang says its satellite launch is for peaceful scientific purposes and does not violate any international agreement. The US said on Wednesday it was suspending a food aid deal with North Korea, as Pyongyang has refused to halt the rocket launch. The US has made it clear that by opting to go ahead with the launch, North Korea has clearly violated the terms of the food deal which prohibits it from testing any long-range ballistic missiles.
Japan, Russia and China also had strongly urged North Korea to drop its rocket launch plans. Japan and South Korea has also warned that they might shoot down the rocket if it violates their territory.
However, North Korea has insisted that it will not back down, and has reportedly moved the main part of the rocket to a launch pad in Tongchang-ri village in the northwest region.
North Korea plans to launch the satellite between April 12-14 in a South East trajectory, according to the latest reports.