03/25/2009, 00.00
KOREA
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Pyongyang prepares to set up rocket launch pad

South Korean sources say that "between March 28 and 30," preparatory work will begin on the Musudan-ri launch pad. Seoul is ready to create a crisis team to confront the threat. The communist regime announces the closing of two air routes to clear the way for the rocket launch.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At the weekend, Pyongyang will begin the preparatory phase for the missile launch from the platform of Musudan-ri (in the photo), in the southern part of the province of North Hamgyong. The news comes from South Korean sources today, according to which it is "highly possible that the rocket will emerge between March 28-31."

Seoul says that it will take "at least three days" to fuel the rocket, and is preparing to respond to the threat: "The moment North Korea sets up its rocket that appears to be a long-range missile, [South Korea] will begin operating a crisis management team, assuming the actual launch is imminent."

North Korea has confirmed that it intends to launch a "communications satellite" between April 4 and 8, and insists that the experiment is legitimate; however, it violates the guidelines of the United Nations outlawing missile tests - military and civilian - by the Pyongyang regime, which has joined the space race but is indifferent to a population reduced to famine. The United States and South Korea claim that the country is preparing a test of a ballistic missile (Taepodong-2) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

In recent days, the communist regime in the North has given notice that two air routes - used by South Korean and international civilian planes - will be closed from April 4-8, in order to permit the missile launch.

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