Seoul: South Korea’s military has seen North Korea complete all of preparations necessary for a planned launch of a long-range rocket after Pyongyang’s revised notification of the launch window.
A Defence Ministry official said on Saturday that in consideration of various situations, North Korea seemed to have completed preparations for the launch that include erecting and assembling missile boosters at a launch pad and filling fuel and oxidiser, Xinhua reported.
Pyongyang is highly likely to fire a long-range missile on Sunday, the official estimated, saying the military is preparing for the launch.
Expectations emerged for the Sunday launch as North Korea moved up its rocket launch window to February 7-14 from the previous February 8-25.
Pyongyang informed the International Maritime Organisation on Saturday of the revised plan, according to Seoul’s foreign ministry.
North Korea rocket, which Seoul has denounced as a banned test of ballistic missile technology, would be launched at the main Tongchang-ri rocket launch station on the country’s west coast.
According to weather forecast, it was expected to have cloudy sky on Monday and snow on Tuesday at the rocket base. On Thursday and next Saturday, rain or snow was expected. On Sunday and Wednesday, it was forecast to have sunny skies in the region.
To track a North Korean rocket after the launch, South Korea has deployed surveillance assets, including Aegis-equipped destroyer, ground-based Green Pine radar and Peace Eye airborne early warning and control aircraft.
Two Aegis destroyers, which the Seoul military mobilised, are equipped with the SPY-1D multifunctional phased array radars that can detect and track ballistic missiles flying as far as 1,000 km.
The Green Pine radar with a detecting range of about 500 km can oversee missiles all over North Korean territory for 24 hours a day. The E-737 Peace Eye is mobilised to track Pyongyang rocket from the sky.
South Korea has warned of shooting down debris that fall on its territory or territorial waters from a North Korean rocket, which was estimated by the Seoul military to fly over the western border island of Baengnyeong at an altitude of about 180 km. The military regards its airspace as an area below an altitude of 100 km.
The Seoul military has deployed PAC-2 missiles to intercept Pyongyang rocket that may infringe on its territory, but skepticism remained over the interceptors’capability as the Patriot missiles have an interception range of some 15 km.