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NKorea readies new missile launch pad: newspaper

From rice paddy launch pads to big screen control rooms, North Korea's missile program depends on a limited release of imagery to foster fear and uncertainty.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) June 16, 2009
North Korea has finished preparatory work at a new launch pad for long-range missiles on its northwest coast, a report said Tuesday.

Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted a government source as saying the launch structure has been installed and a hangar has been completed at the Dongchang-ri launch site.

"Large girders have recently been installed and the two or three months of preparatory work at the launch pad have been completed," the source told the daily.

"However, no radar has yet been set up and no missile has been brought to the launch pad. A launch is not imminent."

The paper said satellite photos showed the structure to be about 50 metres (165 feet) high, meaning it would be capable of firing an intercontinental ballistic missile measuring 40 metres or longer.

The North's three previous long-range missile launches were from Musudan-ri on the east coast, where the paper said the launch structure is 32 metres high.

The North on April 5 conducted what it called a satellite launch from Musudan-ri.

The US and other powers said no satellite was detected and the exercise was a disguised test of a Taepodong-2 missile theoretically capable of reaching Alaska.

Tensions have been running high since Pyongyang fired its long-range rocket in April, tested a nuclear bomb in May, and then launched short-range missiles and renounced the truce that ended the Korean War.

US and South Korean officials have said earlier there are signs it may be preparing to test-fire another long-range missile.

US intelligence sources also believe the North is likely to respond to tougher new UN sanctions announced Friday with another nuclear test, according to American TV networks.

Chosun said constant movements of personnel and vehicles had been spotted at Kilju county in the northeast where the first two tests were conducted.

Other sources have said there are no signs yet of preparations for a third test.

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