North Korea is considering delaying its controversial rocket launch amid intensifying international pressure to drop what nations believe is a guise for banned missile tests from Pyongyang.
The launch, slated for liftoff as early as this week, will be set back as scientists “readjust” the timing, an unidentified spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology told state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Scientists have been making the final preparations for the launch following Pyongyang’s announcement of its second attempt to put a satellite into orbit as part of its “peaceful” space program despite condemnation. The reclusive state, however, has not specified the reasons behind its decision to postpone the launch.
AP reports the delay was either caused by diplomatic intervention or technical glitches as satellite images indicated snow covering the Sohae launch site may have slowed launch preparations.
The United States, Japan, South Korea, as well as the North’s main allies China and Russia, urged Pyongyang to abandon the plan which would violate UN Security Council resolutions and stoke tensions in the region.
The launch is also believed to be aimed at prodding Washington to resume dialogue with Pyongyang over the suspension of its nuclear ambitions in exchange of food aid. The US deployed navy ships to the region ahead of the launch to “reassure regional allies”.