North Korea Plans Long-Range Rocket Launch, Defying International Condemnation

North Korea Plans Long-Range Rocket Launch, Defying International Condemnation
AP/ 達志影像
What you need to know

North Korea plans to launch a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit between February 8 and 25, which is viewed by many as a front for a ballistic missile test. The announcement has drawn condemnation from South Korea, Japan and the US.

Listen
powered by Cyberon

Compiled by Bing-sheng Lee

On February 2, reports emerged that North Korea told the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency responsible for navigation safety, it is planning to launch a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit between February 8 and 25, as well as send a report to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at an unspecified time.

IMO says that it has received notification from North Korean authorities of a multistage rocket launch between the hours of 7 am and 12 pm local time, on an as-yet unspecified day between February 8 and 25. IMO’s spokesperson, Natasha Brown, says that North Korea’s notification described the payload as an Earth observation satellite called Kwangmyongsong, which translates as Lodestar.

While North Korea says it is putting a satellite into orbit and that it has sovereign right to pursue a space program by launching rockets, others view the launch as a front for a ballistic missile test. The announcement has thus drawn condemnation from South Korea, Japan and the US. US officials say the same type of rocket used to launch the satellite could also be used to fire a long-range missile.

According to Reuters, North Korea also advised the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization and the ITU that the satellite will have a functional duration of four years and circle the Earth in a non-geostationary orbit. The notice is intended to warn ships, aircraft and civilians in the area about falling debris, which is expected to land in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of South Korea and to the east of the Philippines.

Japan and South Korea on high alert

On February 3, Japan placed its military on alert to shoot down a North Korean rocket if it threatens Japan, while South Korea said North Korea will pay a severe price if it proceeds with a satellite launch that Seoul considers to be a missile test.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will work with the US and others to strongly demand that North Korea refrain from what he describes as a planned missile launch.

The rocket is likely to fly over Japan’s southern island of Okinawa in the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of several hundred kilometers. Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani ordered ballistic missile defense units, including Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan and Patriot missile batteries onshore, to be ready to shoot down any North Korean rocket that threatens Japan.

South Korea’s warning came after North Korea notified UN agencies on February 2 of its plan. South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement that North Korea should immediately call off the planned launch, which violates UN Security Council resolutions.

US calls for harsher UN sanctions on North Korea

Reports of the planned launch have also drawn US calls for tougher UN sanctions that are already under discussion in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test. State Department spokesperson John Kirby says that the UN needs to send the North Koreans a swift and firm message.

Daniel Russel, senior US diplomat for East Asia and assistant secretary of State, states that using ballistic missile technology would be an egregious violation of Pyongyang’s international obligations. It shows the need to raise the cost to the leaders through imposing tougher sanctions and by ensuring the thorough and rigorous enforcement of the existing sanctions.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest also says, ”I feel confident in telling you that the international community would regard a step like that by the North Koreans as just another irresponsible provocation and a clear violation of their international obligations.”

North Korea said last month it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, but this was met with skepticism by the US, South Korean officials and nuclear experts. They said the blast was too small for it to have been a full-fledged hydrogen bomb.

North Korea last launched a long-range rocket in December 2012, sending an object it described as a communications satellite into orbit.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Sources:
“North Korea, Defying Warnings, Prepares to Launch Long-Range Rocket" (New York Times)
“South Korea, Japan condemn planned North Korea satellite launch" (CNN)
“Japan military on alert over North Korea’s planned rocket launch" (Reuters)
“North Korea Announces Long-Range Rocket Launch" (HNGN)
“South Korea says North will pay a ‘severe price’ for missile launch" (The Star)
“North Korea missile launch plan raises alarm" (Financial Times)

Looking for More?
More『News』Articles More『News』Articles More『TNL 編輯』Articles
Loader