North Korea to test-fire missile or satellite?


South Korea pressed the alarm button last week saying its neighbour plans to test fire a long range ballistic missile. In the image is the Taepodong-1. Wikipedia

SEOUL (BNS): The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced on Tuesday that it would test-launch a communication satellite. This announcement was made by an official of the space department, according to the official KCNA news agency.

The DPRK space official said that the satellite would be fired by the ‘Galaxy 2’ space launch vehicle in the East Sea Space Launching Base located in Hwadae County, the North Hamgyong province. He said that preparations were underway, but didn't specify the date of launch.

Last week, the US and South Korean media reported that North Korea increased its troop strength and was going to test-fire a ballistic missile ‘Taepodong-2’ with a maximum estimated range of 6,700 km, designed to carry a nuclear warhead that could hit the US territory. The US officials had warned DPRK against the missile launching.

In 1998 too, North Korea made a similar claim after launching a rocket, that it had successfully put a satellite into orbit. But the then administration at Washington alleged that the rocket was a ballistic missile named ‘Taepodong-1’.

Chinese news agency Xinhua quoting a spokesman reports that North Korea had pushed ahead with researches and development for putting satellite into orbit ‘by its own efforts and technology since 1980s,’ and achieved great success by putting its first experimental satellite "Kwangmyongsong-1" into orbit in August 1998.

As the first phase of its national long-term plan for space development, the country is expected to launch satellites for communications, prospecting of natural resources and weather forecast in a few years to come, which will contribute to the building of an economic power, the agency said.

Xinhua reports that North Korea in the past few weeks has said that it had the right to develop a peaceful space programme which is centered on a multi-stage rocket.

But there are doubts that the country's move could actually be a test-launch of its longest-range missile.


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