International

North Korea Thumbs Nose At World; Fuels Rocket For Launch

North Korea technicians watch live images of the rocket fueling at the satellite control room of the space center near Pyongyang. i i

hide captionNorth Korea technicians watch live images of the rocket fueling at the satellite control room of the space center near Pyongyang.

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images
North Korea technicians watch live images of the rocket fueling at the satellite control room of the space center near Pyongyang.

North Korea technicians watch live images of the rocket fueling at the satellite control room of the space center near Pyongyang.

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea continues to pump fuel into a rocket that's scheduled to lift off into space in a few days, purportedly carrying a weather satellite. The Kwangmyongsong-3, according to the government-controlled North Korean news agency, "is an earth observation satellite for collecting data essential for the country's economic development."

What it's actually collecting are denunciations from several countries, including the U.S., which say the launch violates UN Security Council resolutions forbidding North Korea from launching just about anything, especially a rocket. Liftoff could come as early as tomorrow.

NPR's Louisa Lim says this rocket has the longest potential range North Korea has ever tried to use; that means it could be closer to constructing a rocket that could carry a bomb toward the U.S. Japan, which is well within short range distance, is outraged and has even threatened to shoot down any errant rocket.

In a very remarkable change of behavior, usually secretive North Korea invited a few journalists to visit the launch command center; VOA says one of its reporters was able to watch fueling work by video.

And that's not all of today's action - North Korea hastily gave its new leader, Kim Jong Un a new title today: he's first secretary of the Worker's Party, having taken over the senior leadership position last December after the death of his father. Louisa looks at whether the political action and the rocket launch are tied to this weekend's 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim's grandfather, Kim Il Sung.

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