North Korea appears to be disassembling its long-range rocket, a day after announcing that technical difficulties had caused an extension of the launch period for the controversial mission.
South Korean government officials tell local media that satellite photos taken Monday suggest technicians have begun taking apart the three-stage rocket.
The unidentified officials did not know whether only a section was to be removed or if the operation would require the entire rocket to be disassembled.
Pyongyang has vowed to go ahead with the launch, despite widespread international condemnation, a prolonged period of cold weather and technical difficulties.
On Monday, it extended the deadline of the rocket launch by a week, until December 29th,, citing a “technical deficiency in the first stage control engine module of the rocket.”
The launch had been scheduled for December 10th-22nd to coincide with the first anniversary of the death of former North Korean ruler Kim Jong il.
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson Cho Tai-young said Tuesday there is rising international pressure on North Korea to scrap the launch.
“Currently, 29 governments and three international organizations, including the United Nations, European Union and NATO have released statements insisting that North Korea suspend its missile launch.”
North Korea is banned from carrying out any missile or nuclear-related tests by United Nations resolutions imposed in 2006 and 2009 after it conducted unsuccessful nuclear tests. A third rocket launch, in April, also ended in failure and was condemned by the Security Council.
Pyongyang insists this launch is simply to put a weather satellite in orbit.
The United States, Japan and South Korea view the tests as platform to develop a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.