SEOUL, June 17, 2009 (AFP) - A North Korean train specially equipped to carry a long-range missile has been moving between two launch sites in an apparent attempt to disguise the country's intentions, a report said Wednesday.
The train was used in May to transport a missile to a newly-completed site at Dongchang-ri on the northwest coast.
But lately it has been running without cargo between Dongchang-ri and the other launch site at Musudan-ri on the east coast, Yonhap news agency said.
"The train which left Pyongyang has been moving back and forth between Dongchang-ri and Musudan-ri. But the train is running empty," Yonhap quoted an unidentified intelligence official as saying.
"These frequent round trips could be a smokescreen aimed at confusing US and South Korean intelligence authorities," the source said.
The National Intelligence Service said it does not comment on intelligence matters.
Chosun Ilbo newspaper also said the train movements to Musudan-ri might be a cover, or a preparation to launch missiles from two sites simultaneously.
The North used Musudan-ri for its three previous long-range missile launches, in 1998, in 2006 and on April 5 this year.
Pyongyang said its latest launch was to put a satellite into orbit. The US and its allies said it was a disguised test of a Taepodong-2 missile theoretically capable of reaching Alaska.
After the UN Security Council condemned the operation, the North threatened more nuclear and missile tests unless the world body apologises.
It went ahead with its second atomic test on May 25. US and South Korean officials have said it may also be preparing another ballistic missile test.
On Tuesday Chosun said preparatory work at Dongchang-ri has been completed.
But it added that no radar has yet been set up and no missile has been brought to the launch pad itself, meaning blast-off is not imminent.