North Korea plans to launch satellite: South
A South Korean government source says North Korea plans to launch a new satellite, as Pyongyang stresses its right to a peaceful space program.
“Through various channels, we’ve recently learned that the North has completed a new satellite and named it Kwangmyongsong-5,” the South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo quoted the unnamed source as saying.
“Their plan is to put a satellite equipped with cameras and telecommunication devices into orbit,” the source added.
North Korea has been under a raft of crippling United Nations sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear tests as well as multiple rocket and missile launches. Pyongyang is banned from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology, including satellite launches.
But Pyongyang defends its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of the United States and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan. It also defends its space program by claiming that it is meant for peaceful purposes.
North Korea launched an earth observation satellite called Kwangmyongsong-4 in February 2016. Some governments opposed to Pyongyang claimed it was a cover for the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Referring to the possibility of a new North Korean launch, a spokesman for the South Korean military joint chiefs of staff said there was “nothing out of ordinary at this moment” but added that his country would be watching out for any provocative acts, “including the test of a long-range missile disguised as a satellite launch.”
The newspaper of North Korea’s ruling party, Rodong Sinmun, on Monday reaffirmed the country’s right to launch satellites and develop its space technology.
In a commentary titled “Peaceful space programs are sovereign countries’ legitimate rights,” the daily stressed that Pyongyang’s satellite launches “absolutely correspond” with international laws concerning space development.
Earlier this month, a Russian military expert, Vladimir Khrustalev, said that the North was expected to launch two satellites — an Earth exploration satellite and a communications satellite — soon.
He made the remark after a week-long visit to North Korea in mid-November, when he met with the representatives of the country’s National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA), the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaia Gazeta reported.