NKorea transports rocket's main body to launch site: official

 Unfazed by global concerns, North Korea has transported the main body of a long-range rocket to a site in preparation for its launch next month.

"South Korean and U.S. military authorities understand that North Korea has moved the main body of a long-range missile to Dongchang-ri in preparation for launch," a South Korean military official said, asking anonymity.

The official confirmed a Japanese media report which said that a train took the main body to the launch facility in Dongchang-ri, Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, yesterday, Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korea has announced that it will launch the rocket to put an observation satellite into orbit between April 12 and 16 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founding father Kim Il-sung, which falls on April 15.

Kim Il-sung is the father of Kim Jong-il, the late North Korean leader who died of heart attack in December. Kim Jong- il's son, Jong-un, has succeeded him.

South Korea and the United States have called on the North to refrain from the planned rocket launch, seeing it as a disguised ballistic missile test.

The planned North Korean rocket launch also figured in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak here today.

"Noting North Korea's announcement ... that it plans to launch the so-called 'application satellite,' the two leaders said that nothing should be done which increases tensions in the region and violates the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, a joint statement said.

The two leaders also reaffirmed the importance of joint efforts at nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, it said.
The North's move comes as US President Barack Obama and scores of other global leaders are flocking to Seoul to attend the second Nuclear Security Summit from tomorrow.

Washington has said it will not provide food aid to Pyongyang if the North proceeds with the rocket launch, although the US agreed in February to ship 240,000 tonnes of food to the impoverished North in return for the North's moratorium on missile and nuclear tests and freeze of uranium enrichment.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions imposed in 2009 after Pyongyang's nuclear and long-range rocket tests.

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