North Korea activity at rocket launch site being monitored

The U.S. Seventh Fleet, based in Japan, said it was aware of increased concerns and was monitoring the situation.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 28, 2016 at 11:58 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter
Sign up for our weekly Korea Now newsletter
An exclusive report putting perspective on the week's most important developments.

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- South Korean and Japanese officials are cautiously monitoring North Korea developments following reports of new missile launch site activity a day after the United States failed to obtain an agreement from China to toughen sanctions against Pyongyang.

Movements captured on satellite imagery of the area near the North's Sohae Satellite Launching Station showed North Korea was preparing for a missile launch, Kyodo News reported Thursday.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Seoul does not confirm the report but that the news is "raising concerns."

"As the North conducted the latest nuclear test in a hit-and-run manner without notifying China or the United States, we assess that it could similarly stage a major provocation in the future," Kim said.

In Tokyo, a Japanese government source said the satellite images indicated the launch might be a week away, The Japan Times reported.

The U.S. Seventh Fleet, based in Japan, said it was aware of increased concerns and was monitoring the situation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened a meeting of his National Security Council, and Tokyo has entered a review of its "destroy on command" system that could be activated, should a North Korea missile enter Japanese airspace, South Korean network YTN reported.

Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai, however, quoted a government official who said a North Korea launch is not imminent, adding to a diverse range of opinions on North Korea's next move.

The United States, meanwhile, is stepping up measures to pass a tough sanctions resolution at the United Nations Security Council.

The Korea Herald reported Ambassador Thomas Shannon, a counselor at the State Department, told South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se the United States plans to accelerate talks with China to guarantee a sanctions resolution.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was unable to obtain a Chinese commitment to impose strong sanctions on North Korea that could include significant reductions to trade and energy supply to isolated Pyongyang.

South Korea has made efforts to persuade China to play a "constructive role," but Chinese commentators told Beijing media the United States is imposing demands while "holding a stick in the hand," China's Global Times reported.

China is concerned sanctions could accelerate a North Korea collapse that would then lead to a refugee crisis at its border.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories