Touring North Korea's rocket launch site


North Korea's rocket sits on the launch pad at Tongchang-ri

North Korea says it is ready to launch a long-range rocket that it says will send a satellite into space, despite warnings of sanctions if the launch goes ahead.

Pyongyang says the Unha-3 rocket is scheduled for launch between 12 and 16 April to mark the centenary of the birth of its late leader Kim Il-sung.

Foreign journalists were invited to witness the launch preparations at the Tongchang-ri launch site on the country's north-west coast. Here's my report.

Damian Grammaticas Article written by Damian Grammaticas Damian Grammaticas China correspondent

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    Comment number 5.

    The North Koreans seem remarkably willing to change launch direction.

    An eastwards launch over Japan would give them maximum assistance from Earth's rotation and the maximum chance of reaching orbit.

    A southward launch would require considerable extra deltaV to achieve a polar orbit, with a correspondingly increased chance of failure.

    If those suggesting a disguised missile launch are correct the direction would not matter because the payload would not be expected to reach orbit. In that case, perhaps we should expect an impact in the Timor Sea, the Southern Ocean or on Antarctica.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Yang said at trilateral summit in Ningbo with his counterparts from South Korea & Japan - diplomacy & patience is best approach to ease tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. China, he said, will maintain close communication & coordination with relevant parties. He urged the world to exercise restraint & continue looking for peaceful resolution.
    I agree with this approach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    If North Korea has something to hide, it certainly seems open to journalistic observation, & that seems incongruous.
    In any case, if this were Britain, US, France, Germany...would we be celebrating with them (in honour of a former leader), or would we be walking all over the state's sovereign rights and digesting potentially ill-informed propaganda?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Nice trip. I want to go take a look at DPRK all the time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The fact that they invited the press in at all says a lot. The regime has changed for the better I think and they'll not be as aggressive a nation in the future.



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