North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Preparations Continue at Sohae for U’nha-3 Launch

The U'nha-3 prior to the April 2012 launch (Photo: KCNA)

The U’nha-3 prior to the April 2012 launch (Photo: KCNA)

South Korean media reported on 4 December (Tuesday) that technicians are finalizing the installation of the three-stage U’nha-3 carrier rocket at the Sohae Satellite Launching Center (Sohae Space Center) in Ch’o’lsan County, North P’yo’ngan Province.  An unnamed source told Yonhap that “North Korea completed installing the second-stage rocket into position and appears to be working to place the third stage in position.”   Hanyoreh reported that “As forewarned by North Korea, its military seems to have been going through the necessary technical preparations for a launch sometime between Dec. 10 and 22. It appears as though North Korea could assemble a thee-stage rocket and fuel it before launch. It is expected to take three days to install a three-stage rocket on the launch pad and one week before all preparations for the launch are completed.”

Hankoryeh also quoted an unnamed South Korean (ROK) government official who said, “North Korea doesn’t possess the technology to hoist rockets on the launch pad after horizontally assembling all the rockets at once as we do with the Naro rocket. That’s why they install rockets one by one and technicians climb on the rocket to carry out the assembly.”  Kyunghyang Shinmun reported that “North Korea made public its plans to launch the rocket through a report by the Korean Central News Agency on December 1, but they have yet to release this plan through media available to ordinary citizens.”  Professor Yang Mu-jin told Kyunghyang that “We can speculate that North Korea may not have made a final decision on whether to launch the rocket. It looks like there is room for the U.S. and China to play a part in stopping the North’s rocket launch,” but an unnamed government official said,”Reports by North Korea’s press and missile-related issues have no connection. The fact that the North stated the dying orders of Kim Jong-il in their announcement shows that they have crossed the bridge of no return.”


(Photo: Google image)

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