North Korea hints at satellite launch

Pyongyang, Sep 14 (IANS) North Korea said on Monday that it is accelerating efforts at the final stage of development for satellites for earth observations, hailing its huge progress in research on developing geostationary satellites.

“Successful progress made in reconstructing and expanding satellite launching grounds for higher-level satellite lift-off has laid a firm foundation for dynamically pushing ahead with the nation’s development of space science,” the official KCNA news agency quoted the anonymous director of the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) as saying, Xinhua reported.

The director made the comments in an interview with the news agency on the country’s achievement in space development on the occasion of the 70th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), which falls on October 10, according to the report.

The director stressed that it was a sovereign state’s legitimate right for space development for peaceful purposes and North Korean people “are fully determined to exercise this right, no matter what others may say about it”.

The KCNA noted that the world would witness more satellites of Songun (military-first) Korea launched into the sky “at the times and locations determined by the WPK Central Committee”.

These comments further fuel speculations that Pyongyang may be ready to launch a long-range rocket, or ballistic missile, around the upcoming October 10 grand celebrations.

However, South Korean Defence Minister Han Min-koo said last Thursday that no signs have been detected yet for North Korea’s test-firing of long-range rockets ahead of the 70th anniversary of the party’s founding.

North Korea recently erected a 67-metre launch tower for long-range rockets, taller than the previous 50-metre pad, at a Tongchang-ri rocket base in the northwest region.

The country fired a three-stage Unha-3 rocket into the space orbit in December 2012, two months before its third nuclear test.

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