Work halted at N Korea rocket launch pad

2012-09-25 11:02
Structures which an analyst says gantry footings, a flame trench and propellant buildings of a new launch pad are seen at the Tonghae launch complex near the village of Musudan-ri on the northeast coast of North Korea. (DigitalGlobe/ AP)

Structures which an analyst says gantry footings, a flame trench and propellant buildings of a new launch pad are seen at the Tonghae launch complex near the village of Musudan-ri on the northeast coast of North Korea. (DigitalGlobe/ AP)

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Seoul - New satellite imagery shows North Korea has halted work at a launch pad capable of testing intercontinental missiles, possibly setting the project back by up to two years, a US website reported on Tuesday.

The commercial satellite images taken on 29 August also show construction postponed on crucial fuel and oxidiser buildings designed to support future tests near the new pad, the 38 North website said.

"The slowdown, barring concerted North Korean efforts to make up for lost time, could result in a 1-2 year slip in the planned completion date of the new complex," it said

38 North, which is the website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said the exact cause of the work stoppage was unclear, although recent heavy rains might be a factor.

The new launch pad, being built at the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in the northeast of the country, had been scheduled for completion around 2015.

According to the website, it was intended to conduct future tests of larger, liquid-fuelled rockets, possibly with intercontinental ranges.

Even if completion is delayed, Pyongyang still retains the option of testing longer-range rockets at the newer Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the northeast.

North Korea carried out a failed rocket launch at Sohae in April in what it said was an attempt to put a satellite into orbit.

The UN Security Council strongly condemned the exercise as breaching a ban on the testing of ballistic missile technology, and tightened sanctions.

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