North Korea site activity shows preparations for launch

As a precaution, South Korea designated a no-fly zone for commercial flights Wednesday.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 3, 2016 at 10:55 PM
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SEOUL, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station is showing a similar level of activity that came to pass in December 2012, when Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, the "Unha-3."

38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, stated in its latest analysis Wednesday there was enough activity at the site in Dongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, that supports the possibility of a North Korea rocket launch between Feb. 8-24.

The study focused on new movements at the Horizontal Processing Building that suggested Pyongyang was preparing for a space launch. Nine vehicles were also seen on site, similar to 2012.

Otherwise, there were no major developments at the launch pad since Jan. 25, when the last set of satellite images were examined, and by Feb. 1, only one vehicle remained.

Scientists and engineers are likely to be on site, according to the analysis, and an adjacent helicopter pad has been cleared of snow.

South Korea is on high alert after the North's announced plans to launch an "Earth observation satellite," and designated a no-fly zone for commercial flights Wednesday, CBS No Cut News reported.

The ban affects 41 airline routes, and flights must be rerouted, closed or rescheduled for certain hours, Seoul said.

In 2012, North Korea launched the Unha-3, an expandable carrier rocket, which fell into the Yellow Sea, where flights between China and the South Korean island of Jeju are directed.

Some of the flights would be banned while others would be rerouted through Seoul, or Incheon Airport.

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