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South Koreans watch a TV news program which shows North Korea's Unha-3 rocket at Seoul train station Ahn Young-joon/AP/Press Association Images
North Korea

Flight paths changed as North Korea prepares for rocket launch

North Korean space officials said today that all assembly and preparations for a planned satellite launch have been completed – and continued to deny it is a cover for missile test.

A NUMBER OF Asian airlines have changed flight paths because of the planned North Korean rocket launch.

BBC News reports that three airlines changed their flight paths to avoid the rocket, which is expected to be installed by the end of today.

The Washington Post says that several airlines will reroute around 20 flights over the Phillipines this week, and that three northeastern air corridors will be be closed.

North Korean space officials said today that all assembly and preparations for a planned satellite launch have been completed, while denying it is a cover for missile test.

Space officials said that the launch of the three-stage rocket is on schedule to happen sometime between April 12-16 as part of centennial birthday commemorations for late President Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder.

The United States and others say the Unha-3 rocket could also test long-range missile technology that might be used to strike the US and other targets. North Korea says it will launch an observation satellite meant to provide detailed surveys of the countryside.

The United States says the launch would jeopardise a US-North Korean agreement where Washington would provide Pyongyang with much-needed food aid in exchange for a freeze on nuclear activity, including a moratorium on long-range missile tests.

A similar 2009 rocket launch was condemned by the UN Security Council.  North Korea has tested two atomic devices, but is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to mount a warhead on a long-range missile.

- Additional reporting AP

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