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In PHOTOS: Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

Last updated on: April 12, 2012 10:41 IST

In PHOTOS: Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

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North Korea's planned rocket launch could happen as early as Thursday. The rocket launch window opened at 8:00am (AEST), with North Korea saying Monday is the last opportunity to launch the three-stage rocket.

Defying calls from around the world for the country to abandon the launch, fuel was being injected into its controversial experimental rocket on Wednesday.

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Image: Engineers are seen checking the Unha-3 rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang
Photographs: Reuters

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Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

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But North Korea is unlikely to conduct its planned long-range rocket launch on Thursday due to weather conditions, Japan's Kyodo news agency said, citing a government source.

"The weather is poor, and it is now past the launch time given, so there will probably be no launch," Kyodo quoted an unnamed government source as saying.


Image: Engineers check the base of Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site
Photographs: Reuters

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Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

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Meanwhile, the United States has geared up for a strong response to the expected long-range missile launch by North Korea but at the same time tried to play down the propaganda value for the North Korean leadership.

"We take it seriously, but you should also understand that within the context of North Korean behaviour, it is not unusual," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, told reporters.


Image: A soldier stands guard in front of the rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang
Photographs: Reuters

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Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

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At the same time, Carney said that the US government would come up with a strong response to any such long-range missile launch. "This action, if it takes place, is in keeping with the kind of behaviour that the North Korean leadership and regime has shown in the past," he said.

"It is why, as I've said before and others have said, this kind of blatant disregard for their commitments makes it impossible for the United States to provide the nutritional assistance that it had hoped to provide for the North Korean people," he said.


Image: The Tongchang-ri rocket launch facility in North Korea is seen in this handout satellite image from DigitalGlobe taken on April 9 and released April 11
Photographs: Reuters

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Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

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"One of the reasons why is because we need to be able to ensure that that assistance reaches the people who need it, those who are severely nutritionally deprived in North Korea, those who need that kind of aid and assistance, and what this action, if it takes place, would indicate is a failure by the North Koreans to consider abiding by their commitments a serious matter," Carney said.

US President Barack Obama, the presidential spokesman said, during his recent trip to South Korea made clear and asked other countries, including China, that have influence on North Korea to do what they can to try to persuade it to change direction, to reconsider the path that they're on.

"And we continue to make that case. We consider this a provocative action, if it takes place. It is clearly in violation of two United Nations Security Council resolutions and demonstrates a propensity by the North Korean regime to spend and waste money on military programs while their own people starve," he said.


Image: North Korean scientists work at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at the satellite control centre of the Korean Committee of Space Technology on the outskirts of Pyongyang
Photographs: Reuters

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Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

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"The fact of the matter is that the North Koreans have an alternative that would allow them to reduce their isolation, allow them to focus on the need to take care of their own people, to feed them, to educate them, to give them opportunity, if they would abide by their international obligations. And there are a great many nations focused on this problem, and we'll continue to do so," he said.



Image: A member of the Japan Self-Defence Forces stands guard in front of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-to-air missiles, deployed at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo
Photographs: Reuters

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Defiant North Korea fuels rocket for launch

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Carney said North Korea still has an opportunity for them to, at what would be the last minute, change direction here, perhaps reconsider the approach they're taking and consider an alternative.

"If the North Koreans do act and they do launch this ballistic missile, we will certainly have something to say about it. That's all. I wasn't ruling out anything," he said responding to a question.


Image: Japan Airlines pilots look at a monitor next to a computer screen showing no-fly zones in red, as well as a new route that would avoid an accident with North Korea's planned long-range rocket launch in a Japan Airlines' pilot ready room at Haneda airport in Tokyo
Photographs: Reuters

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