SEOUL (South Korea): New satellite images of a North Korean rocket launch site show a mobile radar trailer and rows of what appear to be empty fuel and oxidizer tanks, evidence of ramped-up preparation for what Washington calls a cover for a long-range missile test.

An analysis of images provided on Monday to The Associated Press by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies shows Pyongyang “has undertaken more extensive preparations for its planned April rocket launch than previously understood.” The images were taken Wednesday.

A mobile radar trailer essential for any launch stands at the end of a new dirt road running from the entrance of the Tongchang-ri site; it has a dish antenna that's probably a radar tracking system, according to the institute's analysis. Radar tracking during a launch gives engineers crucial real-time information on the performance of the rocket's engines, guidance system and other details.

“These pictures are new and important evidence that the North's preparations for its rocket launch are progressing according to schedule,” said Joel Wit, visiting fellow at the institute and editor of its website on North Korea, “38 North.” The images are from Digital Globe, a commercial satellite photography company.

North Korea says the launch, set for sometime between April 12 and 16, will fire a satellite into orbit to study the country's crops and natural resources. It is also meant to honour one of the country's most important days — the centennial of the April 15 birth of national founder Kim Il Sung.

Washington says North Korea uses such launches to test missile systems for nuclear weapons that could target the United States. While North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests, analysts don't believe it has yet mastered the technology needed to shrink a nuclear weapon and mount it onto a missile.—AP

Opinion

Editorial

Course correction
Updated 24 Feb, 2024

Course correction

PTI should not abandon its power and responsibility while expecting an external stakeholder to set things right.
The plot thickens
Updated 24 Feb, 2024

The plot thickens

THE recent explosive allegations by Liaquat Ali Chattha, the former commissioner of Rawalpindi, have thrust the...
Trigger-happy police
24 Feb, 2024

Trigger-happy police

ARE the citizens of Karachi becoming fair game again? There were some grisly signs of a rapid return to living...
What next for PTI?
Updated 23 Feb, 2024

What next for PTI?

THE incoming government has been carved up. With the major offices apportioned between the PML-N and PPP, the...
Tackling debt
23 Feb, 2024

Tackling debt

MANY would tend to describe a new report warning that the country is headed for “inevitable default”, which will...
Imprisoned abroad
23 Feb, 2024

Imprisoned abroad

THE issue of Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in foreign jails crops up regularly, particularly during parliamentary...