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N. Korea internally promoting latest long-range rocket as ballistic missile

All Headlines 11:52 February 04, 2013

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea exhibited the fuselage of what is presumed to be the long-range rocket it launched in December, and explicitly called it a ballistic missile, despite its claims to the outside world that the Unha-3 was part of its peaceful space development program, a report said Monday.

The report by Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun quoted North Korean sources as saying that the fuselage was displayed under the name "Hwasong-13" among the exhibitions of the country's missile lineup in an exhibition hall in Pyongyang. The Hwasong line also includes shorter-range scud missiles, which the country has produced since the 1980's.

The fuselage was called a ballistic missile and displayed in the "strategic rocket" room of the arms exhibition hall, which opened in April last year, the report said.

With a diameter of 2.4 meters, the fuselage is the same as the long-range rockets the North launched in April and December of last year, according to the report. The Unha rockets are estimated to stand 30 meters high and weigh 91 tons when fueled.

The North's explicit naming of the rocket as a ballistic missile starkly contrasts with the country's efforts to portray it as a harmless space launch vehicle.

As it conducted the latest launch on Dec. 12, the country said the rocket was aimed to send a "working satellite" into orbit and protested the United Nations' adoption in January of a resolution designed to punish the launch. The outside world suspects the Dec. 12 launch was the North's cover for testing its ballistic missile technology.

The newspaper article said real and mock-ups of scud missiles were displayed along with the latest ballistic missile in the rocket room where foreigners were not given admittance.

The report also noted the North ordered tightened border security in an official letter given to border guards at the end of January, quoting another North Korean source.

It said a North Korean official visiting China has been urgently called back home, and it was presumed to be linked with the country's imminent third nuclear test.

The world is closely following the North's nuclear activities after the country threatened to conduct a nuclear test following the U.N.'s adoption of the punitive resolution. South Korean officials said the country is technically ready to test a nuclear device at any time upon approval from the North Korean leader.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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