Defense authorities in Japan and the United States have concluded that a three-stage long-range rocket launched by North Korea in April failed completely before separation from the first stage because attitude control was lost shortly after the launch, government sources said revealed.
North Korea plans to launch, sometime between Monday and Dec. 22, another Unha-3 rocket that it says will carry a satellite into space. The move is regarded as a cover for testing long-range ballistic missile technology.
Although North Korea says it has improved the rocket’s reliability after analyzing the reasons behind the April failure, the Defense Ministry is concerned the next rocket could veer off course again, increasing the chance that debris could fall somewhere within Japanese territory.
Ministry issues notice
The land ministry said Tuesday North Korea has issued a notice to airmen, or NOTAM, that it will launch what is believed to be a long-range ballistic missile between next Monday and Dec. 22.
The notice was issued at 5:03 p.m. Saturday by Pyongyang and the ministry obtained it through the Europe-based International Maritime Organization because Japan has no diplomatic ties with North Korea, ministry officials said.
The NOTAM said the rocket will be launched between 7 a.m. and noon on any day during the period.