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North Korea puts rocket on pad for satellite launch

Pyongyang: The rocket for the planned satellite launch later this month by North Korea has been installed on the launch pad, Xinhua reported Sunday.

Last month, North Korea announced its plan to launch an "earth observation" satellite between 12 and 16 April to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

Three-stage Unha-3 rocket, which will carry the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite into space, has been assembled but not yet fuelled. AP

Some 70 foreign mediapersons were invited to take a special train to the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the North Korea's northwest for a visit.

Jang Myung Jin, who is in charge of the station, told reporters that the three-stage Unha-3 rocket, which will carry the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite into space, has been assembled but not yet fuelled.

Some technicians were working at the middle and bottom sections of the towering launch pad and that the North Korean flag had been emblazoned on the rocket together with "Unha-3", according to Xinhua.

The Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite weighs 91 tonnes and has an original driving force of 120 tonnes, and the Unha-3 rocket is 30 metres high with a diameter of 2.4 metres, said Jang.

"It is a carrier rocket but not a ballistic missile," he said, adding that the launch is a peaceful programme aimed at developing North Korean economy and raising the people's living standard.

"The rocket is equipped with a self-destruction system and thus will not affect other regional countries," the official said.

IANS