February 4, 2016
TOKYO (AFP) - North Korea may be preparing a ballistic missile launch from a base on its east coast in addition to its announced plans to fire a space rocket, Japan's public broadcaster reported Thursday.
Pyongyang's announcement Tuesday of its rocket plan was greeted by a global chorus of anger and concern, with sharp criticism from South Korea, Japan and the United States, already angry over the North's fourth underground nuclear test early last month.
China, which dispatched a top official to North Korea this week, echoed the international concerns while Japan has vowed to shoot down any missile that threatened its territory.
Japan's NHK television, citing diplomatic sources it did not identify, reported that it has been "confirmed that a mobile launch pad in North Korea's eastern coastal area was on the move."
As a ballistic missile is on the launch pad, it is possible that Pyongyang is preparing a launch there, the report added.
NHK did not say whether it was a long- or short-range missile.
The North said it plans to launch a rocket from its Dongchang-ri base in the country's northwest between February 8 and 25.
Countries opposed to the launch and independent experts say it is nothing more than a disguised long-range ballistic missile launch aimed at helping Pyongyang to improve its capability and eventually achieve the ability to place a nuclear warhead on a rocket.