N. Korea 'Now Ready' to Launch Another Rocket
Improved facility may be designed to launch long-range missiles, US institute says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2014 8:17 AM CDT
In this July 27, 2013, file photo, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un waves to spectators and participants of a mass military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

(Newser) – North Korea has been busily working on its Sohae Satellite Launching Station for the past year, and a US think tank says that satellite images indicate construction is complete and the facility is likely ready to launch longer-range missiles with bigger payloads, the New York Times reports. "North Korea is now ready to move forward with another rocket launch," reports the US-Korea Institute, affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, adding, "Should a decision be made soon to do so in Pyongyang—and we have no evidence that one has—a rocket could be launched by the end of 2014."

North Korea emphatically denies it's planning on launching missiles from this station and instead says it just wants to get satellites into orbit. But Pyongyang "often threatens to turn Seoul and Washington into a 'sea of flames'" when it gets irritated and was reprimanded by the UN after it flouted weapons sanctions and launched an Unha-3 rocket—currently its longest-range missile—in 2012, notes Reuters. The modifications to Sohae reportedly include its launchpad and gantry tower, and imagery showed tanks hovering around propellant storage buildings last month for the first time in two years, the Times notes. (Experts are already pretty sure North Korea can make nuclear parts on its own.)