North Korea has started disassembling a controversial long-range rocket it had been preparing to launch, citing ‘"technical problems," South Korea's Yonhap news agency said on Tuesday.
Satellite photos show workers have begun taking down the three-stage rocket at the Tongchang-ri launch site in the country’s northwest, which was due to be launched later this month, the agency said.
"We detected signs of (North Korea) breaking down the rocket at the Tongchang-ri launch site. It seems that the North is trying to fix technical problems," a senior military source in Seoul told Yonhap.
The rocket launch has been postponed due to a technical glitch which was found in the first-stage control engine module, the source said, adding the launch will go ahead after the repair work is completed.
On Monday, North Korea extended the launch window for its latest rocket test to December 29.The original launch window was December 10 to December 22.
Pyongyang alarmed the international community when it announced earlier this month that it would attempt another rocket launch. An attempted launch last April ended in failure, when the rocket exploded shortly after take-off.
North Korea claims its new rocket was intended for putting a satellite into outer space, but the international community has widely condemned what it believes to be the development and testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) intended to carry nuclear warheads.
Yonhap said South Korea planned to hold separate talks with China and Russia soon to persuade North Korea to abandon its plan to launch the rocket this month.