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South Korea condemns North’s plans to launch rocket as ‘grave provocation’

Published: March 19, 2012 | 7:45 am
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South Korea has condemned Pyongyang’s plans to launch a rocket as a “grave provocation” designed to help the regime develop a long-range ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

North Korea in Friday announced that it will put an Earth-observation satellite into orbit in April as part of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the nation. State media have angrily dismissed suggestions that the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite on a Unha-3 rocket is a disguised missile test.
“The peaceful development and use of space is a universally recognized legitimate right of a sovereign state,” North Korea’s KCNA news agency said. “Satellite launches for scientific research and use of space for economic development can no longer be monopolised by a few countries.”

It also criticised concerns expressed by Seoul, Washington and Tokyo as “extensions of the hostile positions these countries have taken against North Korea.”
Pyongyang’s announcement was made shortly after it agreed to halt missile and nuclear tests in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid from the US.
Lee Myung-bak, the president of South Korea convened a meeting of his foreign and security ministers on Monday to discuss the North’s announcement.

The officials have also concluded that the scheduled satellite launch is a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, adopted in June 2009, which bans the North from developing ballistic missile technology. The resolution was reached three months after Pyongyang carried out an underground nuclear test.
Japan has announced that it is preparing countermeasures against the launch in case the rocket comes close to Japanese airspace.
“We are currently doing a mental exercise in preparation, using the previous incident as our guide,” Naoki Tanaka, the Japanese defence minister, told local media.
In 2009, Japan deployed three Aegis destroyers equipped with the Standard Missile-3 interceptor system in the Sea of Japan. Early-warning aircraft were also airborne and Patriot missile interceptor systems were stationed at air bases north of Tokyo.
The Self-Defence Forces were given the order to destroy the rocket if it passed over Japanese territory, although the eventual launch was a flop.
North Korea claimed that the satellite was beaming the thoughts of Kim Jong-il around the world from outer space, but the space agencies of other countries could find no evidence that the satellite had reached orbit and concluded that the rocket and its payload embarrassingly fell into the Pacific Ocean.


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