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North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year. 

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NORTH KOREA

North Korea continuing work on long-range missiles, images show

US academics say satellite images show regime efforts to develop longer-range rockets continue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 3:26am

Satellite imagery indicates North Korea has been testing rocket engines, a sign it continues to develop long-range missiles, a US academic institute says.

The analysis provided on Monday is based on satellite images taken as recently as late September of the Sohae site on the northwest coast. In April, North Korea launched a rocket from there in a failed attempt to propel a satellite into space in defiance of a UN ban.

The analysis on the website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said it remains unclear whether North Korea was preparing another rocket launch but predicted it may embark on new rocket and nuclear tests in the first half of 2013.

The analysis underscores the challenges posed by North Korea's weapons programmes to the United States and its allies as President Barack Obama heads into his second term.

Washington's most recent attempt to negotiate a freeze in North Korea's nuclear programme and a test moratorium in exchange for food aid collapsed with the April launch, which the US regarded as a cover for testing ballistic missile technology.

The US-Korea Institute analysis concludes that since the failed launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which disintegrated shortly after take-off, North Korea has conducted at least two, and possibly more, tests of large rocket motors.

"Pyongyang's large motor tests are another clear sign that its missile programme is moving forward. Whether there will be another long-range missile test this spring remains unclear but is a distinct possibility," said Joel Wit, a former US State Department official and editor of the 38 North website.

An April 9 satellite image shows what appear to be dozens of fuel tanks near a stand used for conducting tests of rocket engines. A September 17 image shows the tanks are no longer there, and a flame trench has been stained orange and surrounding vegetation has been burned from the exhaust of an engine. An image from September 28 indicates a further test has taken place.

The analysis was written by Nick Hansen, a retired expert in imagery technology with experience in national intelligence.

He concludes the tests were likely of the first-stage engines of the Unha-3 or the bigger KN-08 missile first viewed in a spring parade in Pyongyang.

The images also show construction work on a launch tower at Sohae to enable it to accommodate even larger rockets than the Unha-3 or KN-08.

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