North Korea has installed the first stage of a long-range rocket it plans to launch this month, defying international calls to cancel the mission, a report said yesterday.
North Korea announced on Saturday that it would carry out its second long-range rocket launch this year between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22.
The US, South Korea and Japan have condemned the launch as a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions.
The first stage has been placed in position at the North’s Sohae satellite launch station, a South Korean government source told Yonhap news agency.
The source said it was expected to take three or four days for North Korea to erect all three stages.
Russia and China urged North Korea yesterday not to go ahead with the launch.
“We urgently appeal to the government [of North Korea] to reconsider the decision to launch a rocket,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Echoing its criticism of the April launch, Russia said North Korea had been warned not to ignore a UN Security Council resolution which “unambiguously prohibits [it] from launching rockets using ballistic technology.”
China was not so direct in its criticism of North Korea, but urged “all sides” not to take any action that “worsens the problem.”
“China believes that maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia accords with the interests of all sides and is the joint responsibility of all sides,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) told reporters.
“In the present circumstances, we hope all sides can be calm and restrained, and not take any moves to worsen the problem. China will remain in touch and coordinate with all sides,” he said.