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Pyongyang readies to launch satellite

Technology could be used for missiles and is therefore banned
Dec 27,2017
North Korea is preparing to launch a newly developed reconnaissance satellite into space, possibly from a transporter erector launcher (TEL) in order to dodge prior detection, a local government source exclusively told the JoongAng Ilbo Monday.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the South Korean government was closely monitoring the situation after being tipped off by the military and spy agency, but did not give any time frame during which Pyongyang might carry out the test.

Pundits see North Korea’s satellite launch as a cover for developing long-range missiles, given their technological similarities. The act is banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions against the regime, which prohibit any further development of technology applicable to its ballistic missile program.

The North carried out four satellite tests in previous years using long-range rocket carriers, two of which were successfully placed into orbit, but none are known to have transmitted data back to earth, according to U.S. authorities. The last satellite launch was in February 2016.

The local government source said the veiled Kwangmyongsong-5 would be a new spy satellite equipped with cameras and telecommunication devices. Another official from the National Intelligence Service told the paper that the regime was examining the option of firing the rocket carrier from a TEL of an undisclosed location, not the usual Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, in western North Korea.

Kwangmyongsong, or “Lodestar,” is named after former leader Kim Jong-il, as it was his nickname.

Pyongyang has never directly forecasted a satellite launch this year, but recent reports from the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun appear to suggest it is planning to conduct one in the near future.

The state bragged about its “peaceful” and “scientific” nature of space development three times this month in Rodong Sinmun. And on Christmas, last Monday, it said no other country, including the United States, had the right to interfere or take issue with its “active” space drive.

“Our country is keeping pace with the global space development trend,” read the article, adding it was the North’s “voluntary right” to join the “world’s shared dream and goal to conquer space” in order to improve its domestic economy and science technology.

North Korea claimed that its launching of a satellite was protected under the UN Charter, which pursues the principle of sovereignty for all UN members.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]