by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) March 25, 2012
North Korea has transported the main body of a long-range rocket to a site in the far northwest of the country in preparation for next month's launch, Seoul's military said Sunday.
"South Korean and US military authorities are aware that North Korea has moved the main body of a long-range missile (to Tongchang-ri) and is preparing for launch," a defence ministry spokesman told AFP without giving details.
The remark confirmed a report by Japan's Fuji Television that a train had taken the main body to the country's new launch site on Saturday.
The North has announced it will fire the rocket to put a satellite into orbit between April 12-16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il-Sung.
The United States and other nations say that the exercise is a disguised missile test, and that ballistic missile launches for any purpose are banned under UN resolutions.
The launch is expected to dominate talks later Sunday between visiting US President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-Bak. It will also be a key topic on the fringes of a 53-nation nuclear security summit starting Monday in Seoul.
Preparations for the launch "have entered a full-fledged stage of action", the North said Friday.
It warned the South's conservative government not to raise the launch or the North's nuclear programme at the Seoul summit, threatening "strongest counter-measures which no one can imagine".
earlier related report
Any attempt to deprive the North of its "independent and legitimate right" and impose double standards "will inevitably compel the DPRK (North Korea) to take counter-measures", according to a foreign ministry spokesman.
Preparations for the launch "have entered a full-fledged stage of action", the spokesman said in a statement on the official news agency.
The North says it will launch a rocket between April 12-16 to put a peaceful satellite into orbit. The United States and its allies see a disguised missile test in violation of UN resolutions.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and several countries have criticised the planned launch. Ban says he will take it up at a summit starting Monday in Seoul.
The statement insisted the launch would not breach an agreement announced last month with the United States, under which the North agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment programme and missile tests in return for US food aid.
"The DPRK (North Korea) remains unchanged in its stand to sincerely implement the DPRK-U.S. agreement," the statement said.
Any attempt to deprive the North of its right to launch peaceful satellites would "inevitably compel the DPRK (North Korea) to take counter-measures", the spokesman said without elaborating.
Countries concerned "should not make an excessive reaction to the DPRK's satellite launch for peaceful purposes from their viewpoint of confrontation but fairly and calmly accept it as it is", the statement added.
US warns N.Korea rocket aimed south
Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, delivered the message in person to Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Saturday.
"If the missile test proceeds as North Korea has indicated, our judgement is that it will impact in an area roughly between Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines," Campbell was quoted as saying.
"We have never seen this trajectory before. We have weighed into each of these countries and asked them to make clear that such a test is provocative and this plan should be discontinued."
The nuclear-armed North has announced it will launch a rocket in mid-April to put a satellite into orbit, a move the United States, Australia and other nations see as a pretext for a long-range missile test banned by the UN.
On Friday, the North said preparations for the launch "have entered a full-fledged stage of action" and promised unspecified "counter-measures" against opponents of the operation.
It insisted the launch would not breach an agreement announced last month with the United States, under which the North agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment programme and missile tests in return for US food aid.
The move by North Korea's new leadership has set off alarm bells across the region with the Philippines already calling for help from the United States to monitor the rocket, part of which is expected to land off the archipelago.
Japan is readying missile defence systems to shoot down any rocket that threatens the country. North Korea's main ally China has urged that "all parties should keep calm and exercise restraint".
Carr said after meeting Campbell that the launch would be "in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions."
A UN Security Council resolution passed after the North's missile and nuclear tests in 2009 bans a ballistic missile launch for any purpose.
"The North Korean nuclear and long-range missile plans represent a real and credible threat to the security of the region and to Australia," Carr told the Herald.
Carr added that he and Campbell had "shared views on how both the US and Australia could engage our regional partners and allies to encourage North Korea to abandon its plans".
World leaders including US President Barack Obama are meeting in Seoul next week for a summit officially focused on nuclear terrorism.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plans to raise the rocket launch at the meeting on Monday and Tuesday.
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com
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NASA Sub-Scale Solid-Rocket Motor Tests Material for Space Launch System
Huntsville AL (SPX) Mar 20, 2012
A sub-scale solid rocket motor designed to mimic NASA's Space Launch System, or SLS, booster design has been successfully tested by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The 20-second firing tested new insulation materials on the 24-inch-diameter, 109-inch-long motor. The motor is a scaled down, low-cost replica of the solid rocket motors that will boost SLS off th ... read more
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