World News

Feb 14, 2013 2:13 PM by Associated Press

North Korea upgrading rocket launch pads

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. research institute says North Korea is upgrading one of its two major missile launch sites, apparently to handle much bigger rockets.

Design features of a new launchpad under construction at the northeastern site of Tonghae also suggest Iran may be helping North Korea.

38 North, the website of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, published its assessment Thursday based commercial satellite images, the latest taken last month.

The analysis also identifies activity at an older launchpad at Tonghae, last used for the blastoff of a long-range rocket in 2009, but says it's unclear if that indicates preparations for another launch there.

A successful satellite launch in December and a nuclear test on Tuesday have intensified international concern over Pyongyang's weapons' development.

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