North Korea will make another attempt to launch a rocket into space between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22, months after a launch carried out by the impoverished state failed.
North Korean state-run media on Saturday described it as a “peaceful scientific and technological satellite launch.” The Unha-3 rocket—the same kind that was tested in April—will be launched from the Sohae Space Center in North Phyongan Province.
In the past, North Korea has been accused of testing long-range missiles under the auspices of satellite launches. The United States, South Korea, and the United Nations Security Council have previously warned the isolated, communist country against such a move.
The last rocket launch in April was a failure, breaking apart merely seconds after liftoff, but forced Japan and South Korea to be on high alert. Analysts and experts have said the rockets could be used to deliver a nuclear warhead.
North Korea said its scientists and technicians “analyzed the mistakes that were made during the previous April launch and deepened the work of improving the reliability and precision of the satellite and carrier rocket.”
The launch path was also chosen “so that parts of the carrier rocket that might fall during the launch process would not affect neighboring countries,” state media said.
During the last launch, tensions between North Korea and the United States were especially high.
In late February, the United States told Pyongyang that it would give more food aid to the country if it suspends nuclear and long-range rocket tests—like the one in April. But North Korea ultimately decided to carry out the test, saying at the time that the United States would face “ensuing consequences” for not delivering the food aid.
However, this time, North Korea’s latest rocket launch appears to be for internal political reasons, an unnamed government source in the South Korean government told the Yonhap News Agency.
“The hurried attempt to launch the missile in the midst of winter seems to be caused by internal factors, rather than outside ones,” the source said, adding, “By firing the rocket, the North aims to parade its leader’s achievements and strengthen the solidarity of its people.”
North Korea has also secretly consulted with foreign experts to fine-tune its latest rocket for testing, a South Korean military official told Yonhap. “An unidentified expert recently visited Pyongyang,” the source added.
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