KBS is reporting that the technical problem with North Korea’s rocket has forced them to dismantle it to make the repair:
North Korea has dismantled a long-range rocket from its launch pad.
A senior official in Seoul said on Tuesday that the government has detected signs that the North had removed the rocket from the launch pad in Dongchang-ri, North Pyongyan Province.
The North announced on Monday that it will extend the 13-day launch window by one week until December 29th to fix a technical problem in the rocket’s first-stage control engine module.
The Seoul official said that the move was considered as a possible action when the North extended the launch window.
The official said that it is unlikely that the North can launch the rocket within this week in light of the time needed to fix the problem, reassemble it and inject the fuel. [KBS Global]
38North.org using civilian imagery analysis is reporting that they believe the time to destack to rocket, make the repairs, test it, and the refuel it will push the launch date to as early as 21-22 December. You can see the imagery analysis at the link. While the repair is ongoing the South Korean media has been reporting that Iranians are on site assisting the North Koreans:
Iran on Tuesday denied a South Korean report that its missile experts were in North Korea offering technical assistance for the planned launch of a long-range rocket.
“This issue is utterly not true,” Ramin Mehmanparast, foreign ministry spokesman told reporters. (……)
The Iranians were invited after North Korea’s last rocket launch in April ended in failure, the newspaper said, citing a Seoul government official. [Channel News Asia]
Remember that the Iranians have had some success with space launches so depending on how much assistance they are giving this could be significant. However, would the Iranians really want to give up space launch technology to the North Koreans to make their launch successful? I just don’t see the benefit in it for them unless they were contracted to provide support for just a specific piece of the rocket like the Russians have provided for the South Koreans.