North Korea plans new rocket launch

2012-12-01 20:33

Seoul - North Korea said it would carry out its second rocket launch of 2012 as its youthful leader Kim Jong-un flexes his muscles a year after his father's death, in a move that South Korea and the US swiftly condemned as a provocation.

North Korea's state news agency announced the decision to launch another space satellite on Saturday, just a day after Kim met a senior delegation from China's Communist Party in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

China, under new leadership, is North Korea's only major political backer and has continually urged peace on the Korean peninsula, where the North and South remain technically at war after an armistice, rather than a peace treaty, ended the 1950 - 1953 conflict.

No comment on the planned launch was available from Beijing's foreign ministry.

In Washington, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland condemned the launch plan as a provocative threat to the Asia-Pacific region that would violate UN resolutions imposed on Pyongyang after past missile tests.

Missile tests

"A North Korean 'satellite' launch would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region," she said in a written statement.

"North Korea must abide by its international obligations under UN Security Council resolutions that clearly articulate what it can and cannot do with respect to missile technologies," said Pentagon spokesperson George Little.

Seoul's foreign ministry called the move a "grave provocation". Japan's Kyodo news agency said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had ordered ministries to be on alert for the launch.

"North Korea wants to tell China that it is an independent state by staging the rocket launch and it wants to see if the United States will drop its hostile policies," said Chang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace Affairs at Seoul National University.

North Korea is banned from conducting missile or nuclear-related activities under UN resolutions imposed after earlier nuclear and missile tests. The country says its rockets are used to put satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes, but that assertion is not widely accepted outside of Pyongyang.

Washington and Seoul believe that the impoverished North is testing long-range missile technology with the aim of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Pyongyang's threats are aimed, in part, at winning concessions and aid from Washington, analysts say.


The failed April rocket launch took place to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung and the latest test will take place close to the 17 December date of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il.

It will also come as South Korea gears up for a 19 December presidential election in a vote that pits a supporter of closer engagement with Pyongyang against the daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee.

The April test was condemned by the UN, although taking action against the North is hard as China refuses to endorse further sanctions against Pyongyang.

North Korea is already one of the most heavily sanctioned states on earth thanks to its nuclear programme.

Pyongyang has few tools to pressure the outside world to take it seriously due to its diplomatic isolation and its puny economy.

The state that Kim Jong-un inherited last December after the death of his father boasts a 1.2 million-member military, but its population of 23 million, many malnourished, supports an economy worth just $40bn annually in purchasing power parity terms, the US Central Intelligence Agency asserts.

"The North's calculation may be that they have little to lose by going ahead with it at this point," said Baek Seung-joo of the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul.


Baek said the test planned for December would likely be no more successful in launching a satellite than the April one that crashed into the sea between China and North Korea after flying just 120km.

"Kim Jong-un may be taking a big gamble trying to come back from the humiliating failure in April and in the process trying to raise the morale for the military," Baek said.

North Korea's space agency said on Saturday that it had worked on "improving the reliability and precision of the satellite and carrier rocket" since April's launch.

  • squeegee.pilot - 2012-12-01 20:40

    Starved for attention... or is that just starved?

      tebogo.kumalo.3 - 2012-12-02 08:35

      There are prospective buyers for those missiles. It seems they are testing to show the buyers the capabilities of their products.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-01 20:58

    . They should tie this Kim Jong-un on top of this rocket, and than shoot it into space... Even, the very hungry, will be dancing in the streets !!!111

      Malose-Nyatlo - 2012-12-01 21:31

      Small man's complex...They all need big toys to massage their egos. Even Chairman Mao had his paper tiger. But what these small dictators don't grasp is that their hungry followers pose far bigger threat to them than their missiles to the outside world.

  • joemarshe.push - 2012-12-01 21:03

    Another ACME rocket launch. (”__”)

      albert.m.burger - 2012-12-01 23:26

      Meep meep

      riaan.harmsen.7 - 2012-12-02 11:54


  • lacrimose.wolf - 2012-12-01 21:37

    Eish, when infants are allowed to play with matches. It's very difficult to get an accurate idea of life of the people in N. Korea but what we are able to read, they'd be better off feeding their people than trying to taunt what now amounts to the rest of the world. Parent China egging them on doesn't help. Eventually this will end badly - for all.

  • aitken.rob - 2012-12-01 21:50

    Is this the west trying to influence there power and ideas? Why cant they have rockets. Everybody else does. Maby America dont want more competition of putting satelites into space?

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-12-01 22:33

      Even in the places that satellites orbit, a great risk to all the other satellites up there. Satellites which bring you this web page and everything that goes with that from news to banking to the electricity that powers your computer. Satellites are not benign things, they can be armed and aimed.

  • tony.ezendam - 2012-12-01 21:57

    United Nations..UN..United Nothings. No balls, no teeth, no nothing. What a useless group of old geezers yacking, where everyone speaks and no one listens. Give everyone on this planet arms, let them shoot each other to smithereens and may the strongest survive. (I'm gone within a day..but still)

  • PointBlank - 2012-12-01 22:56

    flexes his muscles? More like shaking his fat bits..

  • arthur.salvado - 2012-12-02 07:19

    Quite right, north Korea must not have any technology. It is the preserve of the USA only and those allied to them. We might still live to regret it. When power is so unbalanced it is dangerous. Just a thought. Still, better in he hands of he USA than NK, Taliban and Iran but I would like to see a little balance. The Chinese and Russians are keeping the American empire in check. Mauve good, maybe bad.

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