North Korea about to launch rocket, mobile missile launcher on the move

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North Korea’s mobile missile launcher, carrying a ballistic missile, has been seen moving near the east coast and activity has also been seen at a long-range rocket launch pad on the west coast, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said on Thursday.

International pressure has grown on North Korea to call off a planned rocket launch, seen by some governments as another missile test, since Pyongyang told UN agencies this week it would launch what it called an “earth observation satellite”.

China, which dispatched a top official to North Korea this week, echoed the international concerns while Japan has vowed to shoot down any missile that is a threat its territory; Japan has put its military on alert to shoot down any rocket that threatens its territory.

The NHK report said the mobile missile launcher was thought to normally remain stationary in places such as an underground facility. Citing diplomatic sources it did not identify, NHK also reported that it has been “confirmed that a mobile launch pad in North Korea’s eastern coastal area was on the move”.

As a ballistic missile is on the launch pad, it is possible that Pyongyang is preparing a launch there, the report added. However, NHK did not say whether it was a long- or short-range missile.

The North said it plans to launch a rocket from its Dongchang-ri base in the country’s northwest between Feb 8 and 25.
Countries opposed to the launch and independent experts say it is nothing more than a disguised long-range ballistic missile launch aimed at helping Pyongyang to improve its capability and eventually achieve the ability to place a nuclear warhead on a rocket.

In March 2014, North Korea fired two mid-range ballistic missiles, which appeared to be Rodong-class missiles, from the mobile launcher off its east coast into the sea towards Japan, the report said.

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