27/11/2012 07:16 GMT | Updated 27/11/2012 07:30 GMT

North Korea Could Be Preparing To Test Long-Range Missile 'In Weeks', According To Satellite Imagery

North Korea could be preparing to test a long-range missile within the next few weeks, according to fresh satellite images of the totalitarian state.

High-resolution images of the earth’s surface captured by DigitalGlobe show considerable activity at the Sohae launch station, prompting fears that the reclusive nation could be preparing to test fire the long-range Unha-3 missile.

north korea

A DigitalGlobe satellite image of the Sohae facility in North Korea

Reported by Reuters, a DigiGlobe statement, read: "Given the observed level of activity noted, of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidizer tanks, should North Korea desire - it could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks.”

In April, North Korea defied international warnings by launching a similar rocket, however the craft disintegrated seconds after launch, causing considerable embarrassment to the regime and its fledgling leader, Kim Jung-un.

Pyongyang dismissed the failed launch as an attempt to place a satellite into space, however the incident was viewed by many in the international community as a ballistic missile test - the type that could in the future be used to carry a nuclear warhead capable of striking the US mainland.

Any new test could prove particularly sensitive for South Korea, with national elections scheduled for 19 December.