WASHINGTON — The United States is closely following preparations by North Korea to launch a long-range rocket, which could come as early as next week, Pentagon officials said April 5.
“We are monitoring very closely the prospect of a missile launch. We take this prospect very seriously,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little.
North Korea says that it will launch a satellite between April 12 and 16 but the United States, South Korea and other nations see it as a pretext for a long-range missile test, which is banned by the United Nations.
“We have the means at our disposal to track very closely what’s happening,” Little said.
Pyongyang sparked alarm in the region when it announced last month it would launch a rocket to place a satellite in orbit as part of mass celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary on April 15 of the birth of Kim Il-Sung.
Washington last week said it was suspending plans to start food deliveries in light of the imminent rocket launch.
Pyongyang in February agreed to suspend operations at its Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant and impose a moratorium on long-range missile tests and nuclear tests, in return for 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid.