Japanese soldiers stand guard near Patriot Advanced
Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-to-air missiles, deployed in
preparation for the launch of a North Korean rocket to the
southwestern prefecture and waters around it. REUTERS/Issei
North Korea will likely postpone the launch of a
long-range rocket, state news agency KCNA says, but gave no
reasons for delaying the plan which has been widely condemned
by countries including Russia and the United States.
KCNA quoted a spokesman for the country's space agency, which
plans to send a satellite into space on the rocket, as saying
it was "seriously examining the issue of readjusting the
launching time of the satellite".
North Korea, which planned to launch the rocket between
December 10 and 22, is banned from carrying out any missile
or nuclear related tests by United Nations resolutions
imposed in 2006 and 2009 after it conducted nuclear tests.
The latest launch had been scheduled to take place around the
first anniversary of the death of North Korea's former leader
Kim Jong-il but would also have coincided with December
elections in Japan and South Korea.
The planned launch has been condemned by Japan and South
Korea, as well as the United States and Russia. China, the
North's only major diplomatic ally, has expressed "deep
concern" it could raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The rocket was scheduled to pass between the Korean Peninsula
and China, with a second stage splashing down off the
Philippines before launching the satellite into orbit.
An earlier launch attempt ended in failure in April when the
mission was aborted just a few minutes into its flight.
Critics say North Korea's rocket programme is aimed at
developing an ballistic missile capable of delivering a