North Korea says a technical glitch has delayed the controversial launch of a rocket designed to carry a satellite into space, but that the launch would go ahead this month.
According to the Associated Press, the launch has been condemned by critics as a front for a banned missile test.
The US, Japan and South Korea fear the rocket is designed to carry a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead — specifically an intercontinental missile with a range of more than 4,000 miles that could hit the continental US.
However, Pyongyang says it only wants to put a weather satellite into orbit.
According to Reuters, the UN imposed a ban on North Korea carrying out any missile tests after it conducted nuclear tests.
An April rocket launch in defiance of the ban ended in failure when the rocket broke up after only a few minutes in flight.
Another missile launch had been scheduled for Dec. 10-22, coinciding with the first anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il, the late North Korean ruler.
However, as reported by Reuters, the KCNA news agency quoted a space agency spokesman as saying
"[Engineers] found a technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket carrying the satellite and decided to extend the satellite launch period up to December 29."
The New York Times, meantime, cited the spokesman as saying the preparations to launch the rocket were "at the last stage," and scientists had extended the window for a launching by a week until Dec. 29.
North Korea claimed to have successfully put a satellites into orbit in 1998 and 2009. However, experts have said the four rockets all failed.