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Satellites show more activity at North Korean missile site

Experts believe North Korea may be preparing a long-range ballistic missile test, due to an increase in people, trucks, and equipment at a missile launch site.

By Reuters / November 26, 2012

A North Korean vehicle carrying what appears to be a new missile passes by during a mass military parade in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to celebrate 100 years since the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.

Vincent Yu/AP Photo/File

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Washington

A new satellite image shows a marked increase in activity at a North Korean missile launch site, pointing to a possible long-range ballistic missile test by Pyongyang in the next three weeks, according to satellite operator DigitalGlobe Inc.

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The imagery was released days after a Japanese newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, reported that U.S. intelligence analysts had detected moves that were seen as preparation by North Korea for a long-range missile launch as early as this month.

DigitalGlobe, which provides commercial satellite imagery to the U.S. government and foreign governments, on Monday released a new image that it said showed increased activity at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station.

It said the imagery showed more people, trucks and other equipment at the site, a level of activity that was consistent with preparations seen before North Korea's failed April 13 rocket launch.

"Given the observed level of activity noted of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidizer tanks, should North Korea desire, it could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks," DigitalGlobe said in a statement accompanying the image.

Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment on the reported satellite images, but said the Defense Department's position on North Korea's missile development efforts had not changed.

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