The five-day window for the launch of a rocket mounted with an observation satellite opened Thursday as North Koreans woke to details about developments at a Workers' Party conference where leader Kim Jong Un ascended to top posts and brought with him a new generation of officials. His father, Kim Jong Il, was granted the posthumous title of "eternal general secretary" at the special one-day party conference yesterday.
The immortalisation of the late leader provided a glimpse into how North Korea will handle the nation's second hereditary succession and indicates he will be honored much in the same way his father, Kim Il Sung, was made "eternal president" following his 1994 death.
Footage on state TV Thursday showed Kim Jong Un seated at the front of the conference with white statues of his grandfather and a new statue of his father in his trademark khaki work ensemble, one arm on his hip. There was no word Thursday morning on the timing of the controversial launch, which the North has said will take place sometime between Thursday and Monday.
In 2009, a similar launch from an east coast site took place on the second day of a five-day window. The United States, Japan, Britain and others say the launch would constitute a provocation and would violate UN Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile programs. Experts say the Unha-3 carrier is similar to the type of rocket that could be used to fire a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead to strike the US or other targets.