N. Korea Says It Will Launch 'Working Satellite' This Month
Ending days of speculation, North Korea finally confirmed that it will launch what it calls a "working satellite" later this month.
On Saturday, the North's state-run Korean Committee for Space Technology said it will fire a self-made "working satellite" between December 10th and the 22nd from the country's northwestern launch site near the West Sea.
Pyongyang also said experts had improved the reliability and precision of the polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite and carrier rocket, following a failed launch in April.
Satellite images released in recent days had suggested the Kim Jong-un regime was preparing for its second rocket launch of the year.
A rocket launched in April exploded shortly after lift-off.
While Pyongyang claims it has the right to launch satellites for space development, the international community believes the North is using the satellite launches as a cover for a ballistic missile test, which is banned by the UN Security Council.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry has expressed its "grave concern" about the North's plan, which bypasses calls from the international community not to proceed with the missile activity.
Referring to a statement from the UN Security Council issued after the failed April launch, Seoul urged Pyongyang to refrain from another provocation.
Analysts suggest the North may be playing the missile card to bring Seoul and Washington back to the negotiating table, in the midst of leadership changes in both countries.
Others say the young North Korean leader may be facing internal political pressure to demonstrate his authority to the outside world, in time for the first anniversary of his father Kim Jong-il's death on December 17th.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.
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