North Korea's 2009 launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 in 2009. North Korea is almost finished adding an extension to a rocket launch platform near the China border, according to South Korea. File Photo by Yonhap
SEOUL, July 22 (UPI) -- North Korea has built an extension to a rocket-launching platform near the China border in what Seoul said is preparation for a rocket launch ahead of a major anniversary.
Construction began in late 2013 on a preexisting 50-meter launch pad at Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, and the work of adding 17 meters to the site is near completion, an unidentified Seoul official told Yonhap on Wednesday.
The purpose of the extension is to launch missiles twice the size of the Unha-3, according to South Korean news outlet Daily NK.
The Unha-3 is an expandable carrier rocket that was launched in 2012 and fell into the Yellow Sea. The debris of a second stage launch fell into the Philippine Sea after an object had entered orbit.
Another Seoul government source said intelligence indicated North Korea was producing long-distance rockets in a Pyongyang munitions factory and that South Korea had credible information
Kim Jong Un had ordered the launch of a "satellite" to mark the 70th anniversary of the Workers' Party of North Korea.
Activities at Pyongyang Mirim Airport showed preparations for a large-scale military inspection by Kim Jong Un. Scud missiles, 240-mm rocket launchers, artillery, armored vehicles and transportation equipment had been assembled.
South Korea expects any launch around the Oct. 10 anniversary would be used as a provocation against Seoul.
"We are closely watching the construction in Tongchang-ri," South Korean Defense Minister Kim Min-seok told Yonhap.
North Korea insists the site, which has audio, video and data connections to Pyongyang's control centers is for a "peaceful satellite launch."