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North Korea begins fuel injection at launch pad

The movements were captured using a U.S. reconnaissance military satellite, according to Japan press.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea begins fuel injection at launch pad
Chinese ballistic missile launchers on display at the 70th anniversary parade that commemorated victory over Japan and the end of World War II in Beijing on September 3, 2015. Chinese state television aired footage Friday of military exercises and the firing of Beijing’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, also known as a "carrier killer," days after Beijing raised concerns about the deployment of THAAD on the Korean peninsula. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- North Korea has started injecting fuel into its long-range missile and is on the brink of a launch.

The activity is ongoing at the North's launch pad in Dongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, according to a Pentagon official who spoke to the Asahi Shimbun on the condition of anonymity.

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The movements were captured using a U.S. reconnaissance military satellite that can identify objects on the ground as small as 12 inches, according to the report.

The satellite also detected movement of people and equipment beneath a roof that is covering the launch pad.

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North Korea had announced that it plans to launch an "earth observations satellite" between Feb. 8 and 24, and on Friday South Korea military and intelligence officials said if Pyongyang has started injecting fuel into a rocket, the launch is likely to occur within the week.

In December 2012, North Korea began preparations about a week to 10 days prior to launching the "Unha-3" and started injecting fuel about three to four days before liftoff.

Critics have said the North Korea plan is a cover for a test of its ballistic missile technology. China, its closest economic partner and traditional ally, has issued multiple warnings to Pyongyang.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday the situation is "serious," but stressed the need to maintain necessary communication with North Korea and not just with the United States, South Korea and Russia, Yonhap reported.

"We do not want further heightening of tensions," Wang said on Hong Kong's Phoenix Television.

Chinese state media had warned North Korea would pay a "severe price" if it goes ahead with the proposed satellite launch, and Hong Kong TV commentator Qiu Zhenhai said the North was not "taking China's face into consideration."

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But China is also wary of any future deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, on the peninsula.

State television aired footage Friday of military exercises and the firing of Beijing's DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, also known as a "carrier killer."

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