Report: North Korea gassing up rocket, imperiling diplomacy
A Japanese newspaper report that North Korea has begun fueling a rocket for a launch next month comes after similar reports of preparations.
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A Japanese newspaper report that North Korea has begun fueling a rocket for a launch next month boosts multiple reports that North Korea is moving ahead on plans to launch what it says is a weather satellite, despite protests from the international community.
Citing a report from Tokyo Shimbun, The Telegraph reports that the launch has been set for April 12 or 13 and that the government had started fueling the rocket. A US official told Reuters yesterday that the US had “detected activity that looked like launch preparations” near the country's border with China.
The West and some of North Korea’s neighbors have asked Pyongyang to abandon its plans for the launch, which they consider a violation of a United Nations ban on testing ballistic missiles. Earlier this week, the US announced it would halt food aid to the country.
The Telegraph reports that Pyongyang said the satellite, which will be launched via a missile, will estimate crop yields, collect weather data, and assess forest coverage and natural resources. The international community sees it as an attempt to test its long-range missile capability.
The US believes that North Korea now has cyber-warfare capabilities as well. Army Gen. James Thurman, who commands US Forces Korea, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee earlier this week that Pyongyang now has a skilled team of hackers, in addition to chemical and biological weapons, Reuters reports.