North Korea 'prepares for space launch'
THE US has seen increased activity around a North Korea site suggesting the ability to conduct a space launch in the near future, a US official claimed last night.
"Our concern though is that they do a space-launch but really it's the same technology to develop ICBMs," the official said, referring to inter-continental ballistic missiles.
The official added such a launch could happen within a couple of weeks.
The US said the activity suggested the movement of equipment and propellants which could be used to carry out the launch within "the next few weeks".
Japan's Kyodo news agency also warned that the launch could take place as soon as next week, quoting a government source.
"Japan's analysis on the satellite images over a period of days indicate that North Korea might conduct a long-range missile test within a week," the source said.
The officials did not state exactly where the increased activity took place, though North Korea carries out many of its military tests at a site in Kilju County.
Another official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the launch did not appear to be "ballistic-missile related".
"The indications are that they are preparing for some kind of launch...could be for a satellite or a space vehicle - there are a lot of guesses. North Korea does this periodically, they move things back and forth... There's nothing to indicate it's ballistic-missile related."
Meanwhile, in Washington yesterday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation to broaden sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear programme, human rights record and cyber activities.
The committee passed the measure by unanimous voice vote and members said they expected it would be approved by the full Senate and, eventually, signed into law by US President Barack Obama.