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N. Korea seen nearing completion of missile launch pad
FEBRUARY 08, 2014 04:20  
A website specializing in North Korea-related news run by the U.S.-Korea Institute of Johns Hopkins University reported Friday that the North is nearing completion of modifications to the gantry at the launch pad of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri and likely to launch a missile soon.

The website, 38 North, said that recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that the North has been adding a new eleventh level higher than previously estimated to the launch pad and will likely complete the construction work within one to two months.

The expanded launch pad allows the facility to "handle large rockets of up to 50 meters in length and almost 70 percent longer than the Unha-3 space launch vehicle," the website said. "In view of its size and fuel, the new rocket may be similar to the Ukrainian Cyclone-4 space launch vehicle, derived from old Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles and capable of delivering a 5,300 kg satellite into low earth orbit or 1,800 kg into a geostationary orbit."

Regarding the activities, a South Korean government official said that despite the North`s overtures for dialogue, it is likely that Pyongyang can choose to launch a missile rather than conducting a nuclear test once it decides to make provocations. The official added that the South Korean government is preparing for all possibilities of North Korea`s surprise nuclear test or rocket launch from the Donghae launch pad (in Musudan-ri, North Hamgyong Province) after attracting international attention to the Sohae launch pad.

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