Report: N. Korea Removes Section of Long-range Rocket

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North Korea has removed a section of its long-range rocket, a report said Tuesday, a day after Pyongyang extended the launch window for the widely-criticized mission due to technical problems.

Satellite images taken on Monday showed signs that technicians had begun to "disassemble part of the rocket" at the Sohae satellite launch center, Yonhap news agency quoted a government source as saying.

It was not immediately clear if the section was being removed for repair, or if the entire three-stage carrier was about to be disassembled, the source said.

North Korea had originally provided a December 10-22 window for launching the rocket, but that was extended by another week on Monday when a "technical deficiency" was discovered in the first-stage control engine module.

North Korea says the rocket launch is a peaceful mission aimed at putting a satellite into orbit.

The United States and its allies view it as a disguised ballistic missile test banned under U.N. resolutions prompted by the North's nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

Yonhap cited a diplomatic source who suggested the rocket was being physically detached from the launch pad.

"It seems to be something that cannot be fixed while the rocket stays on the launch pad," the source said. "It appears that they are trying to fix technical problems by removing the rocket from the pad."

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