Sunday, April 5, 2009
* Image Source/ Caption *
Same as the article below
"Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea Kim Jong-il shakes hands during a meeting of faithful soldiers in March."
N. Korea's liquid fuel loading process indicates launch is imminent:
While N. Korea counts down to satellite launch, S. Korean official offers admission regarding decision in PSI participation
The countdown has begun for North Korea's satellite launch, at least according to the April 4-8 time period that North Korea had used to inform relevant international organizations of its intentions. Government offices have gone into emergency mode, with ministries responsible for North Korea, foreign affairs, and security matters all offering their respective predictions regarding the timing of the event.
An official at one intelligence agency says weather predictions for the North's launch site at Musudan-ri in North Hamgyong Province indicate there "won't be any hindrances to a rocket launch." The official added, "the fuel loading process is near completion, so it is highly likely there could be a launch as early as the 4th and as late as the 5th."
The Associated Press reported that a high-ranking US Defense Department official said North Korea has begun loading liquid fuel and that trailers carrying the oxidizing agent used in the burning of liquid fuel were spotted. Reuters reported that another US Defense Department official said that all activities at the launch site indicate an April 4 launch date. A South Korean government official said that with another Supreme People's Assembly scheduled for April 9, "North Korea will probably choose as early a date as possible to maximize its political effect," and suggested April 4 or 5 as a relatively more likely launch date.
South Korean military and weather officials are saying the possibility of a launch early next week cannot be excluded, however, since April 6 and 7 are expected to have the clearest weather, and it would be following typical launch procedure for North Korea to opt for the days with the best weather in order to increase its chances of success.
The Blue House, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Unification, and the Ministry of National Defense all went into "emergency work mode," on April 3, Friday, and have begun real-time monitoring of activities surrounding the launch site closely with the US and Japan. At a session of the National Policy Coordinating Meeting the same day, Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said "since there are tensions on the Korean peninsula and the people are becoming anxious, the government will work with the international community and calmly pursue its action plans that have been prepared as a way to address this anxiety."
The government is advising citizens to minimize travel to North Korea around the announced time of the launch. "We are asking for the cooperation of, and recommending that, private companies and groups visit North Korea during this period prudently and only within the range of what is necessary," said a Ministry of Unification spokesman.
Meanwhile, Vice Unification Minister Kwon Jong-rak said "yes" when asked by Grand National Party (GNP) member Nam Kyung-pil at a session Friday of the National Assembly's Unification, Foreign Affairs, and Trade Committee, Vice Unification Minister Kwon Jong-rak whether the Lee Myung-bak administration will choose to become a full participant in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), offering admission that the decision has essentially been finalized. Asked by Nam why the current administration's position differs from the last, Kwon said there "currently isn't any possibility of an armed clash" between North and South Korea.
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