Following a week of increasing media speculation, North Korean state media outlet has announced that it plans to launch a satellite between December 10 and 22. The date range coincides with two significant events - South Korea’s presidential election and the first anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il.
According to a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology:
The DPRK plans to launch another working satellite, second version of Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by its own efforts and with its own technology, true to the behests of leaderKim Jong Il.
Scientists and technicians of the DPRK analyzed the mistakes that were made during the previous April launch and deepened the work of improving the reliability and precision of the satellite and carrier rocket, thereby rounding off the preparations for launch…
…A safe flight path has been chosen so that parts of the carrier rocket that might fall during the launch process would not affect neighboring countries.
While the DPRK opened the previous launch to media, it is unclear if the same will be the case this time around.
In recent weeks South Korea had been attempting to launch its own Naro satellite, but canceled launches twice due to technical concerns. Reacting to the news, South Korean officials called the move a “grave provocation” and a “challenge to the international community”.
Previous – unsuccessful – launches have been criticised as breaches of a UN ban on North Korean ballistic missile tests. Nevertheless, Saturday’s statement insisted the forthcoming launch would be for “peaceful purposes”.
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