Military forces in South Korea and Japan are standing by Thursday on the first day of a five-day window for a North Korean rocket launch that Pyongyang says will carry a weather satellite into space. The likelihood that the launch will come Thursday dimmed as mid-day arrived with no sign of new activity at the launch pad outside a cloud-covered Pyongyang. North Korean officials had said the launch will come between Thursday and Monday, and between the hours of 2200 and 0300 UTC. In Tokyo, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda repeated his nation's appeal for Pyongyang to cancel the launch but said Japanese forces are ready to shoot the rocket down if it strays over Japanese territory. South Korea has also put its forces on heightened alert and threatened to shoot down the rocket if it appears likely to crash into South Korean territory. The Philippines, located near the planned splashdown site of the rocket's first stage, has diverted airline flights and ordered fishermen to avoid the area.
Paek Chang Ho, chief of North Korea's launch command center, told reporters Wednesday that fuel was being loaded into the rocket in one of the final steps before launch. The journalists, including a reporter with VOA's Korean service, were able to view the activity by video, which was fed live to the remote command center. Paek said a weather satellite has been installed on the rocket, which is set for launch sometime between Thursday and Monday, depending on weather conditions. The video showed a tarpaulin draped over the top of the rocket, making that claim impossible to confirm. Paek also stressed that North Korea opened the launch command center to journalists to correct any claims it is testing a long range ballistic missile. He pledged to share imagery sent back from the North Korean satellite with other countries. The scheduled launch has angered many of North Korea's neighbors, which see the action as a ploy to test a ballistic missile that could later be fitted with a nuclear warhead.
2012-04-13 21:11 编辑：crystal156
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