Satellite images has shown that activities in a North Korean missile launch site have increased significantly, indicating that the country is preparing for the launch of a long-range ballistic missile in the next three weeks.
After analyzing the images, satellite operator Digital Globe said Tuesday that there had been a marked increase at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station.
An image released by Digital Globe shows new tents, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel tanks at the site. It said that the nature of the activities noted now was consistent with the preparations observed prior to the previous launch, which failed.
“This activity is consistent with launch preparations as witnessed prior to the failed April 13, 2012 launch of the Unha 3 space launch vehicle carrying the Kwangmyongsong 3,” said Digital Globe, which provides the satellite imagery to the U.S. and other countries.
According to a statement by the Digital Globe, “North Korea desire- it could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks (e.g., by mid-December 2012).”
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Though North Korea’s previous attempts to launch the long-range missiles had failed, Pyongyang claimed that they were successful.
Reports of the possible missile launch by North Korea have raised concerns in South Korea which has its presidential elections scheduled for Dec 19. North Korea has a history of attempting to influence the key happenings in South Korea either through missile launches or through border violations, triggering cross-border firing.
North’s possible missile launch reports have come ahead of South’s scheduled satellite launch Nov. 29. Seoul’s previous two launches failed.
According to the Japanese media reports, the U.S. had already warned Japan and South Korea of a possible missile launch by North Korea.
Defying a U.N. Security Council resolution against it, North Korea is allegedly developing the long-range ballistic missiles that can target the cities in the U.S.
North Korea had reportedly gone ahead with its missile launch programs in the past despite the international pressure to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit it from carrying out the ballistic missile launches.
On April 13, it launched a long-range rocket, which it termed as a satellite launch vehicle notwithstanding an international pressure to halt the launch.
The U.S stopped a much needed food aid for the impoverished country following the rocket launch. The rocket crashed into the sea between South Korea and China within a few minutes of its launch.