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North Korea Cites Rocket Problems

December 8th, 2012 World

HONG KONG — North Korea said Sunday that it might have to postpone a rocket launching it had previously said would take place as early as Monday, citing unspecified problems encountered by its technicians.

North Korea was “at the final stage” of preparing for the launching when its scientists and technicians began “seriously examining the issue of readjusting the launching time of the satellite for some reasons,” said a spokesman for the Korean Committee of Space Technology.

The spokesman offered no details in the remarks carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. But by referring to the concerns of “scientists and technicians,” he appeared to be indicating that the reasons for any postponement were technical or related to the weather rather than political.

South Korean officials have said that all three stages of the North’s Unha-3 rocket have been assembled at the launching pad in northwestern North Korea, and that trucks carrying rocket fuel have been detected in satellite imagery. But on Friday, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its Web site that preparations to launch the rocket might slow down because of heavy snow.

The United States, South Korea and Japan have urged the North to cancel the launching, and China, the North’s main ally, called on it to show “restraint.”