SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Monday that a technical glitch had been found in the rocket it had planned to launch as early as this week to put a satellite in orbit, but that it still planned to try the launching by the end of the month.
North Korea announced on Dec. 1 that it would launch the rocket, called the Unha-3, sometime between Monday and Dec. 22. But on Sunday it said it might have to postpone the launching, without specifying a reason, prompting speculation in the region about what motivated the delay.
On Monday, a spokesman for the Korean Committee of Space Technology said scientists had found “a technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module” of the three-stage rocket. Although the preparations to launch the rocket were nearly complete, the spokesman was quoted by the state-run Korean Central News Agency as saying that scientists were forced to extend the window for a launching by a week, until Dec. 29.
North Korea said it was exercising its right to the peaceful use of space technology by using the rocket to put a scientific satellite, called Kwangmyongsong, into orbit. But the U.N. Security Council, as well as the United States and its allies, say North Korea’s purpose is to develop the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead on a long-range ballistic missile. North Korea is banned from testing such technology under U.N. resolutions, and sanctions have been imposed over its previous tests.