North Korea's preparation for missile launch heats up, image shows
A satellite image from December 4 provided by GeoEye shows the North Korean launch site.
December 4th, 2012
08:06 PM ET

North Korea's preparation for missile launch heats up, image shows

By Jamie Crawford

North Korea appears to be working toward its goal of launching a rocket later this month, with a new satellite image showing preparations continuing around the site.

The December 4 image provided to CNN by satellite imagery company GeoEye shows increased activity by workers on the launch pad, an imagery analyst told Security Clearance. The launch pad activity was not evident in an image from DigitalGloe taken three days earlier.

"I don't believe that a launch is imminently imminent, but what we are seeing is sort of what they call the beginning of the end of launch preparations," said Allison Puccioni, an analyst with Jane's IHS who writes about North Korean imagery for Jane's Defense Weekly. "Prior to this, we had not seen much in the way of rocket launch pad activity, but now we are seeing some significant stuff happening," such as additional work on the rocket launch tower, she said.

North Korea says it intends to launch a rocket it claims is for science and research purposes sometime between December 10 and December 22. The United States has condemned the test because the launch employs the same technology that would be used in a test of ballistic missiles. The launch would also be a violation of two separate resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council.

Puccioni, who analyzed images before North Korea's last launches last April and in 2009, tells Security Clearance the launch pad still lacks the massive numbers of vehicles and the amount of material that were present in photos in the 10 days preceding the last launches. Compared with images taken before those launches, it appears North Korea may still be as long as three weeks away from blastoff, Puccioni observed, with the rocket still apparently inside the assembly building near the launch site.

While that would fall outside of the North Korean timetable, it is still possible that North Korea could accelerate preparations and launch earlier.

"I like to say North Korea likes to say one thing and mean another, but they surprised me with their accuracy of their last launch window," Puccioni said. "I would not be surprised of it is within the window, especially" with the latest satellite image showing more preparation on the platform.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, met with officials from South Korea and Japan in Washington on Tuesday. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday the meeting was called after the North announced its plans to launch a rocket.

"These are part of our regular trilateral meetings (in which we) discuss a wide range of regional and global issues, but certainly the focus here will be on North Korea," Toner said.

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Filed under: North Korea • Satellite imagery
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Riptide

    be funny if Dear Leader's Son {aka Fail Leader} was there and the Rocket blew up 50 feet above the launch pad

    and Mission control screams in the loud speakers..."Bush's Fault Comrades"!!

    December 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  2. ronald vegliano

    I Bet $1.00 It Will Blow Up If You Hit It With A Bottle Rocket ! HAHAHA!!!!

    December 6, 2012 at 12:54 am | Reply
  3. total infidel

    It's time UN sends UN troops to protect South Korea. Let's say from Germany, Spain, Italy or another UN country. We have been there since the early 50's. Wan't to see Kim 2 self-implode? Start pulling US forces from S. Korea, let it be know that we have a couple of submarines parked on both sides of the N. Korean coast and start running a joint training operation near his dung hole country. He'll think that invasion is imminently imminent and do something really stupid. The perfect storm to end N. Korea.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Reply
    • Chris in Seoul

      There is a UN presence in S. Korea... And guess what? It's run by an AMERICAN GENERAL!!! General James Thurman is the head of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and the United States Forces Korea. Before you start spouting off your "wisdom" on how to handle North Korea, try living here first...

      December 6, 2012 at 2:12 am | Reply
  4. Hahahahahahahaha

    Lil Donged One must be trying to compensate for something!!!!!!! Hahaahaahahhaha

    December 5, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • Samir

      Seems you are the one trying to compensate for something.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:10 am | Reply
      • Towel Head Detection System

        Warning!!!...........Warning!!!!!!...........Warning!!!!!!.........Towel Head detected!!!!!!

        December 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • Hahahahahahaha

        Samir. Get your own jokes. BTW, your camel is double parked. Move it or it gets ticketed!!!! Hahahahahahaha

        December 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  5. Lifes short

    It seems the only people who fear the launch of a North Korean missile are the North Korean rocket scientists.

    December 5, 2012 at 9:40 am | Reply
    • vbscript2

      And those who live near the launch site and along the path of potential crash sites.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:04 am | Reply
  6. markn26

    Fingers crossed for a premature explosion on the ground. Preferably nuclear.

    December 5, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
  7. alan

    i have a few estes rocket motors left over from summer if it would hepl move things along...

    December 5, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • vbscript2

      I think the use of estes motors is still a bit beyond N.K.'s current level of technical prowess. Give them a few decades, then maybe.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:03 am | Reply
  8. RadioResearch

    I bet the damn thing goes right in the drink again! I'm betting it's loaded with trash and this is NK's effort to dispose of all their old trash.

    December 5, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • Jared

      Very good sir.

      December 7, 2012 at 6:27 am | Reply
  9. George

    I wonder if this is a more missilistic missile than the last one. And, will this this be a launchier launch?

    December 5, 2012 at 9:01 am | Reply
  10. Foreverwar

    They are still winding up the giant rubber band on that thing as we read this.

    December 5, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
  11. Elisha

    "imminently imminent" something tells me this reporter was a bit retarded

    December 5, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
    • sumhayseed

      you mean the reporter is retardedly retarded, right?

      December 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
    • James

      Funny, blaming the reporter for quoting what somebody else said.

      December 5, 2012 at 9:40 am | Reply
  12. Andrew

    I say we should take it out with an SM-2 or SM-3 from an Aegis cruiser. Save some money on a test target. Demonstrate to "Dear Leader #2" and any potential customers that we can render this thing useless.

    December 5, 2012 at 8:01 am | Reply
    • jrvinnh

      Yes, we should just go around attacking sovereign countries because we don't like something they're doing. Oh wait, we already do that.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:53 am | Reply
    • Alain Ciphat

      Yeah! Let's go invade said country and depose leader #2! Regime change! It is a slam dunk! Oh wait, we tried that already and it left us in the economic mess that we are in.

      December 5, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
  13. JCDavis

    Countries like North Korea and Iran look at what happened to Libya and Iraq, and it's obvious that those without nuclear weapons and means to deliver them will be destroyed. So they would be crazy not to protect themselves.

    December 5, 2012 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • lerianis

      You hit the nail on the head, JCDavis. The bottom line is that if the United States would STOP with the harassment of various countries who we dislike, they would stop trying to get nuclear weapons. Right now, however they have SANELY realized that without nuclear weapons, they are open to the depredations of the United States government and military. Notice: Government and military there.

      Most Americans were NOT happy that we went in Iraq and, now that we realize how manipulated even the intelligence on Afghanistan was, that country as well.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:30 am | Reply
      • jrvinnh

        What you're describing is "blow-back'. And it's done intentionally. The military industrial complex antagonizes potential adversaries to illicit a response, which then becomes the rationalization to further grow the military industrial complex. General Eisenhower was right wasn't he?

        December 5, 2012 at 8:57 am |
      • lithuanianshogun

        I think 26 disregarded UN sanctions on the Iraqi government warranted military response. Lest the UNSC would never be taken seriously....wait a second....

        December 5, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Chris

      No he really didn't hit the nail on the head since both countries had nuclear ambitions prior to the war in Iraq and the incursion in Libya. The pretext for going to war in Iraq was WMD so you think that North Korea and Iran saw that and said "hey lets develop nukes because that is going to stop a U.S. invasion even though they just invaded a country for WMD they surely wouldn't do the same exact thing to us".

      December 5, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
  14. vermontmike

    maybe they should research how to grow more rice cakes. oh I know, they are researching which way the friggen sun rises. LOLOLOL. give me more cabbage. PLEASE.

    December 5, 2012 at 7:53 am | Reply
  15. American1

    imminently imminent – Isn't that superfluously redundant ?

    December 5, 2012 at 7:41 am | Reply
    • SgtSerge

      Yeah I saw that and just had to roll my eyes.....
      Never thought you could use the same word like that
      that would be stupidly stupid

      December 5, 2012 at 7:51 am | Reply
      • Guest

        I see what you did there.

        December 5, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  16. KEVIN

    From information I obtained from NORAD, North Korea is going to use this missle to clear the skies for Santa's sliegh trip around the world.

    December 5, 2012 at 7:22 am | Reply
    • jrvinnh

      I hear that Santa has trained his reindeer to poop on command. The heat from the droppings decoys the missiles away from the sleigh, sort of like the flares fighter planes drop.

      December 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
  17. Free Man in the Republic of texas

    North Korea's preparation for missile launch heats up...

    But... but... "The ONE" TOLD Kim Jr. NOT to play with rockets and A bombs anymore.

    You know "The ONE" who was going to make the sea jump back
    You know "The ONE" who was going to cut the deficit in half in "HIS" first term
    You know "The ONE" who was going to close GITMO
    You know "The ONE" who was going to end blue state / red state and just have united states

    December 5, 2012 at 7:20 am | Reply
    • Dave

      You are a tard .

      December 5, 2012 at 7:38 am | Reply
    • aszure

      Get over it. Obama won. Move on with life.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:39 am | Reply
    • JCDavis

      Isn't the succession of Texas imminently imminent? Maybe you ought to work on that instead of worrying about boogiemen half a world away.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Their is no I in GITMO its spelled GTMO.

      December 5, 2012 at 9:26 am | Reply
  18. lex

    Hurray fror North Korea. A high light of the civilized world. One more problem for Obama top ignore.

    December 5, 2012 at 6:43 am | Reply
  19. Baylon

    Wah !,North korea must launch missile.

    December 5, 2012 at 6:27 am | Reply
  20. mmi16

    Well it will probably end up being grounded to the ground!

    December 5, 2012 at 5:37 am | Reply
  21. bob

    Odd how their range for a launch date falls within the 12/21/12 date.

    December 5, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
  22. ruben

    Another attempted missle launch? North Korea should feed their hungry then play with rockets.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:40 am | Reply
    • Dar

      So should the United States!

      December 5, 2012 at 8:22 am | Reply
      • Chris

        Nice try but their is no comparison between North Korea and the United States. Every country on Earth has poor people but their is a big difference between being poor and hungry in the U.S. and being poor and hungry in North Korea, in the U.S. you need only to find a local soup kitchen like the one I volunteer at and you can get three hot meal a day while the same cannot be said about North Korea.

        December 5, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  23. Alan drexler

    "immently immenent", thought i stumbled on "The Onion' horoscopes!

    December 5, 2012 at 1:36 am | Reply
  24. Benny

    Looks like we finally found Saddam's WMDs.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:34 am | Reply
  25. Kim Jong No-dong

    Advancing their artificial reef launching skills, no doubt.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:28 am | Reply
  26. ssampson

    " imminently imminent" – Wow – and this person is an expert.... One would think communication skills would be important for an analyst. The remainder of that sentence isn't much better...

    December 5, 2012 at 1:27 am | Reply
    • ?!

      This is why I'm giving up on society.... When something becomes imminently imminent... We know that the apocalypse has come. I think her use of the english language is more catastrophic than any nuclear threat from North Korea could be.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:30 am | Reply
    • Mark9988

      Meaning : it was about to become imminent. A catastrophically catastrophic use of Englishy-type language speaking.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:44 am | Reply
  27. Number 2

    They are building rockets while people starve and dream of broiled chicken in camp 14. The thing will explode on the launchpad.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:13 am | Reply
    • Aenaey

      I hear a lot about how NK should not waste money on rockets and should instead feed their people... unlike the US right?... we have 46 million people below the poverty line and spent 700 billion on defense spending last year (more than the next 15 counties combined)... I dont think we have much room to talk

      December 5, 2012 at 3:13 am | Reply
      • TFISH96

        46 million people most with plasma televisions, cell phones and obese. You can't make that comparison.

        December 5, 2012 at 6:02 am |
      • Golf

        So, if we spent zero on defense each of these 46 million would have received $13k. Most of that would have been spent on loto tickets and soda and at the end of the year we would have had no defense. Do you see any holes in your logic?

        December 5, 2012 at 6:26 am |
  28. karl-Heinz

    another upcoming flop

    December 5, 2012 at 1:03 am | Reply
    • Hahahahahahaha

      They're launching Willard Romney? Hahahahahahaha

      December 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  29. realmarkfahey

    This CNN page is the most stupid gimmick laden graphical layout published by any news site. It looks more like an Xbox game than a news site. CNN you can do better. Less gimmicks, more news please!

    December 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  30. TheSurvivalGuy

    Reblogged this on thesurvivalplaceblog.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  31. Tembisa

    Reblogged this on World Chaos.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  32. CharlieSeattle

    Not to worry.

    This is just a test, sanctioned by the North Korean missile forces and the US Navy ABM system.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply

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