(From Reuters)

The United States has seen increased activity around a North Korean site suggesting preparations for a possible space launch in the near future, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday.

A video grab from KCNA shows the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket launching at North Korea’s West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at the satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in this video released by KCNA in Pyongyang December 13, 2012. REUTERS/KCNA

The officials cited intelligence suggesting movement of components and propellant, adding the United States believed a test could take place even within a couple of weeks.

“Our concern though is … it’s the same technology to develop ICBMs” (inter-continental ballistic missiles), one of the officials said.

U.N. Security Council members were discussing fresh sanctions against North Korea after it conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. The Pyongyang government is already under sanctions for its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea last conducted a long-range rocket launch in late 2012, successfully putting into orbit an object it claimed was a communications satellite. Western and Asian experts said it was part of an effort to build an inter-continental ballistic missile.

Earlier on Thursday, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported North Korea may be preparing to launch a long-range missile as soon as within a week.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok declined to comment on whether there were pre-launch activities at the site, citing a policy of not discussing intelligence matters. Read more

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