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TONGCHANG-RI, DPRK - The rocket for the planned satellite launch later this month by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been installed on the launch pad, Xinhua correspondents saw at the launch site Sunday.
Journalists leave in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket is pictured sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by DPRK authorities in the northwest of Pyongyang April 8, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
Some 70 reporters from Xinhua and other foreign media were invited to take a special train to the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the DPRK's northwest for a visit.
Jang Myung Jin, who is in charge of the station, told reporters that the three-stage Unha-3 rocket, which will carry the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite into space, has been assembled but not yet fueled.
Xinhua reporters saw that some technicians were working at the middle and bottom sections of the towering launch pad and that the DPRK flag had been emblazoned on the rocket together with "Unha-3."
The Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite weighs 91 tons and has an original driving force of 120 tons, and the Unha-3 rocket is 30 meters high with a diameter of 2.4 meters, according to Jang.
"It is a carrier rocket but not a ballistic missile," he said, adding that the launch is a peaceful program aimed at developing the DPRK's economy and raising the people's living standard.
"The rocket is equipped with a self-destruction system and thus will not affect other regional countries," the official said.
Stressing that every country has the right and freedom to peacefully explore the space, he said the DPRK will continue exploring space despite its economic difficulties.
After entering its Sun-synchronous orbit, the satellite will broadcast "the Song of General Kim Il Sung" and "the Song of General Kim Jong Il," he added.
During the five-hour trip to the launch site, located in Tongchang-ri, Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province, the reporters also visited the General Satellite Control and Command Center and some other facilities.
The DPRK last month announced its plan to launch an "earth observation" satellite between April 12 and 16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of DPRK founder Kim Il Sung.
The upcoming launch, which Jang said was planned several years ago, has triggered global concerns.
A soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, in the northwest of Pyongyang April 8, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]