- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2012

A North Korean agency has announced it is considering delaying the launch of a long-range rocket this month that would commemorate the first anniversary of the death of longtime leader Kim Jung-il and violate international law.

A spokesman for the Korean Committee of Space Technology gave no reason for potentially delaying the rocket launch, the communist state’s second attempt in eight months. A launch in April ended with the rocket breaking apart over the Pacific.

“Our scientists and technicians, however, are now seriously examining the issue of readjusting the launching time of the satellite for some reasons,” the spokesman told the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Saturday.

North Korea announced earlier this month it had scheduled the launch between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22. Kim Jong-il died Dec. 17.

The announcement came after United States and other international officials — including those from China, North Korea’s only regional ally — implored North Korean officials not to proceed with the launch.

It also came after the U.S. positioned four warships in the Pacific to monitor the launch and to assist allies with any possible missile threat.

Western nations have said that what North Korea claims are satellite launches are actually ballistic-missile tests, since the same technology applies. The U.N. has banned North Korea from conducting such tests.

North Korea’s three previous rocket launches in the past 10 years have ended in failure.

It is not know if and how long North Korea would postpone its latest launch attempt.

• Kristina Wong can be reached at kwong@washingtontimes.com.

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