It’s still a dangerous world out there.

North Korea appears to be working toward its goal of launching a rocket later this month, with a new satellite image showing preparations continuing around the site.

The December 4 image provided to CNN by satellite imagery company GeoEye shows increased activity by workers on the launch pad, an imagery analyst told Security Clearance. The launch pad activity was not evident in an image from DigitalGloe taken three days earlier.

North Korea claims the launch is for “science,” which is probably true enough: They’re trying to figure out how to make their missiles more accurate and carry a nuclear payload. Science!

Japan and South Korea are deploying missile defense systems to be ready for the North Korean launch, which looks like it will take place sometime after Dec. 10 but before Christmas. Those missile defense systems are the US-developed Patriot in Japan, and an Israeli system in South Korea.

I wonder, what the impact of the defense cuts that will come with the fiscal cliff will be. Both Japan and South Korea depend on US technology and personnel to defend themselves from regional threats such as those posed by the Kim dynasty in Pyongyang. Israel depends on the US for many of its defense needs against the hostile states around it as well.