North Korea Says Ready To Launch Rocket
North Korea said Tuesday that it was ready to launch a long-range rocket, amidst international criticism that the Pyongyang was using the launch for missile tests.
The North says the launch of the Unha-3 rocket - scheduled for April 12-16 - is for peaceful purposes.
Pyongyang gave rare access to reporters ahead of the launch. Ryu Kum-chol, Korean Central Space Committee vice director of the space development department, said (from Reuters):
"The launch of Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is the gift from our people to our great leader, comrade Kim Il-sung, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, so this cannot be a missile test."
North Korea walked out of six-party nuclear dissarmament talks three years ago, and the West believes the rocket - its launch a violation of UN sanctions - is a disguised ballistic missile.
Japan has said it will shoot the rocket down if it enters Japanese airspace.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, from BBC:
"The way out of the situation should be sought on the political and diplomatic track."
Phillippine Airlines, JAL and ANA have made changes to their flight plans ahead of the launch.