U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials have spotted that rocket fuel was transported out from a satellite launch site in northwest North Korea, suggesting several combustion tests may have been held in preparation for a military spy satellite launch, a South Korean newspaper reported Tuesday.
North Korea unsuccessfully tried to launch a rocket carrying a satellite in May and in August. Soon after the failed second launch, Pyongyang's state-run media reported that the country would seek to try for a third time in October.
U.S. and South Korean officials believe that North Korea may instead make its third attempt in November after enhancing the performance of its rocket engine technology with assistance from Russia, according to the report by Dong-A Ilbo.
When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in September at a space launch center in Russia's Far East, they vowed to further strengthen bilateral "strategic and tactical cooperation," North Korean state media reported, underlining the military cooperation between the two nations.
The report said that vehicles and personnel for fuel delivery were detected at a site presumed to be a large fuel storage facility at the Sohae satellite launch site in Tongchang-ri.