North Korea announced it will launch another rocket later this month to commemorate the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong-il, a move defying international sanctions that could heighten tensions in the Korean peninsula and with the West.
Pyongyang says it will test another ‘satellite’ between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22, its second attempt under young leader Kim Jong-un, following a failed missile launch in April, AFP reports.
Scientists have “analyzed the mistakes” made in the failed launch and improved the precision of its Unha rocket and Kwangmyongsong satellite, a spokesman for North Korea’s Korean Committee for Space Technology told the official Korean Central News Agency. The space agency stressed the North’s right to develop a ‘peaceful’ space program.
Pyongyang’s statement also said that the launch was a request of late leader Kim Jong-il and will coincide with the commemoration of his death.
The US and its allies condemned North Korea’s rocket launches, which it says are guises for long-range missile tests and banned by the United Nations.
“A North Korean ‘satellite’ launch would be highly provocative act,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “Any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology is in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions”.
China, the North’s main ally, has expressed ‘concern’ about the launch while acknowledging Pyongyang’s right to the peaceful use of outer space, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.