A North Korean Unha-3 rocket launch in December 2012. Image credit: KNS/AFP/Getty Images

Data from US satellite indicates that North Korea may have already begun fueling its rocket that it plans to launch this month despite international opposition, a Japanese newspaper reported Friday, citing a defense official from US.

According to North Korea, the launching of its satellite-bearing rocket will happened sometime between February 8-25, which also happens to be around the time of the birthday of North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-Il, the father of Kim Jong-Un.

Pyongyang insists that the planned rocket launch is purely scientific in nature, but the US and its allies, specially South Korea, says that the rocket launches of North Korea are aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile that is capable of striking the United States.

North Korea “will finish preparations for the launch as soon as the next several days”, the unidentified US Defense Department official told the Asahi Shimbun.

According to the Washington-datelined report, images from satellite have shown increased movement around the launch pad and a fuel storehouse at North Korea’s Sohae satellite launch complex, citing the official.

The United States which has been monitoring Pyongyang’s movements via military intelligence satellites said that fueling appears to have started, the official was quoted as saying.

The official told the Asahi, once fuelling begins, preparation work normally finishes within several days of that.

Despite UN sanctions prohibiting North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, Pyongyang sends a notification to UN agencies providing a flight coordinates that is similar to its last successful launch of a three-stage Unha-3 rocket in December 2012.

Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea will be rerouting a number of flights during the launch window period. Japan’s Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines would be diverting planes that fly over the Philippine waters to avoid any possible collision, as the rocket’s separation stages was predicted to happen in South Korea’s Yellow Sea and the Philippine Sea.

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