Snow may have slowed North Korean launch

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SEOUL, South Korea — New satellite images indicate that snow may have slowed North Korea’s rocket launch preparations, but that Pyongyang could still be ready for liftoff starting Monday.

South Korean media reports this week quoted unnamed officials in Seoul as saying North Korea had mounted all three stages of the Unha rocket on the launch pad by Wednesday. But snow may have prevented Pyongyang from finishing its work by then, according to GeoEye satellite images from Tuesday that were scrutinized by analysts and shared today with The Associated Press.

The United Nations, Washington, Seoul and others say the launch is a cover for a test of technology for a missile that could be used to target the United States.

North Korea, for its part, says it has a right to pursue a peaceful space program and will launch a satellite into orbit sometime between Monday and Dec. 22.

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