South Korea will change some flight and navigation routes to keep planes and ships out of harm’s way during North Korea’s planned rocket launch next month, officials said Wednesday.
The North has announced it will launch a rocket to put a satellite into orbit sometime between April 12 and 16, a move that the United States and its allies see as a pretext for a long-range missile test.
The North has notified international aviation and maritime agencies of the flight path.
In a letter to the London-based International Maritime Organisation, it said the launch would be made sometime between 7:00 am and noon local time (nine hours ahead of GMT).
It gave coordinates indicating that the first stage of the rocket would fall about 140 kilometres (87 miles) off South Korea’s west coast, in international waters between China and the South.
The second stage was expected to splash down 190 kilometres east of the northern Philippines.
South Korea’s transport ministry said a daily average of 17 cargo ships including those registered overseas pass through the area off its west coast, and that several fishing boats also operate there.
The government will ask those vessels to keep away from the area.
Two South Korean passenger jets, which would normally overfly the area, would be diverted 180 kilometres to the east, along the route linking Seoul to the southern island of Jeju.