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North Korea's Unha-3 rocket ready to blast off

11.04.2012  |  11:53

Engineers are pumping fuel into a rocket that is set to carry a satellite into space, according to officials at the North Korean space agency's central command centre. Live images of the Sohae site showed most of the Unha-3 rocket covered with a green tarpaulin.

Engineers are pumping fuel into a rocket that is set to carry a satellite into space, according to officials at the North Korean space agency's central command centre. Live images of the Sohae site showed most of the Unha-3 rocket covered with a green tarpaulin. The Kwangmyongsong-3 earth observation satellite, which was not visible in the feed, has been mounted and is draped with the tarp to protect it from the wind, Paek Chang Ho, chief of the launch command centre, told reporters. He said the rocket was ready for liftoff as early as Thursday, the start of a five-day window set for the controversial launch timed to coincide with mid-April celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, informs The Guardian. It is only the party's fourth-ever special conference and will kick off events leading up to Sunday's 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founding leader Kim Il Sung, the new supremo's grandfather.

The North's propaganda machine Wednesday cranked up tributes for Kim Jong Eun, who is in his late 20s. The Workers' Party daily Rodong Sinmun, in an editorial, acclaimed him as a "heaven-sent general and great leader." Tens of thousands in the tightly regimented state have been sprucing up the capital Pyongyang for mass anniversary festivities. The centerpiece of the commemoration is a rocket launch scheduled for between Thursday and Monday, according to Fox News. Nuland told reporters a third North Korean nuclear test "would be equally bad if not worse" than the rocket launch.

It would be in the interests of both China and North Korea at this juncture to say Beijing has little influence over Pyongyang. But the countries have maintained warm relations despite tensions in recent years. Before his death last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China four times between May 2010 and August 2011. His son Kim Jong-un, who is now leader of the autocratic state, is believed to have accompanied him on at least one of this trips. The rocket that North Korea has readied for launch from a forested valley in its remote northwest will showcase its ability to fire a missile capable of hitting the continental United States, says Reuters. It would also mean that Kim Jong Un would become chairman of the party's central military committee, following in the footsteps of his father, Kim Jong Il, who died in December. Kim Jong Un is already described as the "supreme leader" of the party, state and army. Moon noted that it is still unclear how directly the young Kim, thought to be in his late 20s, is involved in policy decisions.

So far, Kim Jong Un, as the direct descendant of the country's founder, appears to be "reigning," while powerful senior officials in the regime like his uncle, Jang Song Taek, seem to be doing the "ruling," Moon said, reports CNN..



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