North Korea has extended the launch period for a controversial long-range rocket by another week until December 29, citing technical problems. A spokesman for the North's Korean Committee of Space Technology told state media that scientists found a "technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket." The statement didn't elaborate, but said technicians were "pushing forward" with final preparations for the launch.
North Korea is making its second attempt of the year to launch a rocket that the United Nations, US, South Korea, and others call a cover meant to test technology for missiles that could be used to strike the United States. International pressure and the prospect of dialogue may be a factor in the delay, analysts in Seoul said—specifically from main ally China, which must have sent a "very strong" message calling for the North to cancel or face a new wave of sanctions. Pyongyang calls the launch a peaceful bid to advance the country's space program, and a last wish of late leader Kim Jong Il.