Images Show North Korea Close to Rocket Launch
Preparations further along than previously thought: experts
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2012 7:18 AM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2012 7:43 AM CDT
This combination of the March 7, left, and March 28, right, 2012 satellite images provided by DigitalGlobe, shows the storage area at North Korea’s Tongchang-ri Launch site, on the nation’s west coast.   (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

(Newser) – Satellite images taken last week show that North Korea's preparations for a rocket launch this month are "more extensive … than previously understood," experts tell the AP. The images show a mobile radar trailer, necessary for any launch, as well as apparently empty fuel and oxidizer tanks, evidence that Pyongyang remains on schedule for a satellite launch that it has said will occur between April 12 and 16—a launch that Washington says is a cover for a long-range missile test.

North Korea says the satellite is intended to study crops and natural resources in the country, as well as to honor the April 15 centennial anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung's birth, but Washington says the true purpose is to test missiles that could someday be used for nuclear attacks, possibly on the US. Analysts are concerned a launch could have consequences similar to the last launch in 2009, when tensions ratcheted up. North Korea ultimately left nuclear disarmament talks and ran a second nuclear test weeks later.

View 4 more images