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N.Korea makes progress at rocket site: images
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2013


Australia rebuffs N.Korean delegation over test
Sydney (AFP) Feb 14, 2013 - Australia said Thursday it had cancelled a diplomatic visit by North Korean officials after the secretive state sparked international fury with a third nuclear test.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said a delegation from Pyongyang scheduled to visit Canberra this weekend for talks regarding the reopening of North Korea's embassy had been put off until a later date in protest at Tuesday's underground blast.

"We postponed the arrival of North Korean diplomats in Australia as a gesture following this detonation," Carr told a parliamentary hearing.

"They were due to arrive this weekend."

However, Carr said Canberra remained committed to talks on reopening the embassy, which was shuttered in 2008, apparently due to financial constraints.

"We still adhere to the view that there's value in having a North Korean diplomatic presence here," he said.

"In particular so we can speak directly about these concerns for peace and security and stability in East Asia, and second so we can convey to them directly our concern about human rights in North Korea."

Carr announced Pyongyang's hopes of reopening its Australian post last month following young leader Kim Jong-Un's urging of a "radical turnabout" in the impoverished country's economy.

Already under fire for its latest nuclear test, North Korea has been making preparations at a launchpad that could pave the way for firing a long-range missile, a US think tank said Thursday.

38 North, a blog of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, analyzed satellite photos that it said showed possible assistance from Iran at the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in northeastern North Korea.

38 North said that a commercial satellite photograph taken on January 5 showed "important progress" since the area was hit with typhoons last year and indicated activity that was consistent with preparations for a launch.

But the website said there was not enough evidence to support speculation that North Korea could raise the stakes by testing its KN-08, a new missile with potential intercontinental range first displayed in a parade in April.

The website said that North Korea likely was preparing to test much larger rockets by the time the site is completed in 2016. The launchpad was last used in April 2009 for a long-range test widely seen as a failure.

The area has a new flame trench covering, which would protect large rockets from exhaust gases, that has a design similar to one used at the Semnan launchpad in central Iran, the website said.

It said that the satellite photos showed that three storage tanks were built last year that can hold 439,100 liters (116,000 gallons) of fuel, a level far above North Korea's capacity during its most recent launch.

38 North said that it also observed a conduit through which technicians and electrical and communications lines can pass, even though Tonghae is accessible only by a dirt road.

North Korea defiantly carried out its third nuclear test on Tuesday, saying it was responding to US "hostility" after the UN Security Council condemned its last launch two months earlier.

On December 12, North Korea launched a rocket from its separate Sohae site that, according to experts, managed to reach near the Philippines and to put a small satellite into orbit.

The United States and its allies condemned the launch, fearing it was part of efforts to refine a longer-range missile.

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NUKEWARS
N. Korea vows 'high-intensity' action, new rocket launches
Seoul (AFP) Feb 12, 2013
North Korea's ruling party called for the staging of a "high-intensity" action and further long-range rocket launches, state media reported Tuesday, ahead of an expected nuclear test. The report on a meeting of the Korean Workers' Party politburo made no specific reference to a nuclear detonation, which some analysts are now suggesting may not be as imminent as initially believed. The po ... read more


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