North Korea has reportedly begun to set up the first stage of a rocket they plan to launch later this month, even though their closest "allies" are advising them against the stunt. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported this morning that the first part of the three-stage rocket has been moved onto the launch platform, starting the process for a launch they say will happen between December 10 and December 22. The North Koreans claim they are putting "working satellite" into orbit, but most suspect it's actually a ballistic missile test like the one failed last April.
Russia took the news as an opportunity to remind to them that U.N. Security Council "unambiguously prohibits" North Korea from launching ballistic rockets, and even China said that they should not make any moves that "worsen the problem." In other words, the two countries that are barely in North Korea's corner in the first place have now made it pretty clear that they aren't going to look kindly on this. You can only guess how the South Koreans and the United States feel about it. The South will hold elections on December 16, one day before the one-year anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death.
The condemnation seem unlikely to deter the North, however. The only question remains, can they actually do it. The April test was a massive technological failure and there's no sign that they've overcome whatever hurdles are still in their way to join the rest of the world in space.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.