North Korea Plans “Satellite” Launch

North Korea intends “to launch another working satellite” aboard an Unha-3 rocket in the period between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22, announced the country’s state-run central news agency. The Dec. 1 announcement came less than one week after commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Sohae launch site indicated that the North Koreans appeared to be preparing for a launch of a multi-stage, long-range rocket. While the North Koreans claim that they are launching for “peaceful scientific” purposes—placing a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite into orbit—nations like the United States and Japan contend that the North Koreans seek to advance their long-range ballistic missile know-how. “A North Korean ‘satellite’ launch would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a Dec. 1 release. She added: “Devoting scarce resources to the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles will only further isolate and impoverish North Korea.” The communist nation failed in its previous attempt to launch a multi-stage missile in April. (See also Sydney Morning Herald report.)