North Korea is assembling its long-range Taepodong 2 missile near a launch site and could test-fire the weapon before the end of February, intelligence officials said yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 12).
"The Taepodong 2, which has been transported to the launch site in Musudan-ri recently, has not been seen near the launch pad yet. We assume that they are currently assembling the first and second-stage rockets," one South Korean official said. Reconnaissance equipment has indicated a high amount activity in the area, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
North Korea is unlikely to launch sooner than Feb. 25 due to the complexity of the assembly process. Once the rockets are assembled, personnel would have to move the missile to the launch pad and set it upright (Chosun Ilbo, Feb. 13).