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Rocket rethink: Moscow advises Pyongyang against launch

Published time: December 03, 2012 10:06
This satellite image courtesy of DigitalGlobe of the Sohae Launch Facility on November 26, 2012, shows a marked increase in activity at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station. (AFP Photo/DIGITALGLOBE)

While acknowledging the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s right to “peaceful space exploration,” Moscow has called on the DPRK to “revise its decision on the rocket launch," according to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Monday.

The Foreign Ministry said Russia “regretted” the announcement by the North Korean Committee for Space Technology that it would launch a satellite rocket in the period December 10-22, the statement says.

"We have drawn the attention of the North Korean side many times to the impermissibility of ignoring UN Security Council Resolution 1874, which unequivocally prohibits the DPRK from launching rockets employing ballistic technology," the ministry said on its webpage.

As a member of the United Nations, North Korea is obliged the fulfill UN Security Council resolutions that are mandatory for all member-nations of the international body, the Foreign Ministry stressed.

The Russian statement took a diplomatic approach to Pyongyang’s determination to test rockets, holding out promises of “international cooperation” in the event that North Korea canceled rocket launches.

"Russia, together with its partners in the six-party talks, is ready to continue efforts to settle problems of the Korean peninsula,” the statement read. Talks with the international community could “result in the cancellation of sanction restrictions with regard to Pyongyang,” as well as “the establishment of conditions for the full-scale involvement of DPRK in international cooperation in various spheres.”

North Korea could benefit from “peaceful space exploration and nuclear power engineering cooperation” if it agrees to cooperate with the international community, the ministry said.

Pyongyang said the launch involves a “polar-orbiting earth observation satellite” and aims for “peaceful and scientific purposes in compliance with international regulations.”

It added that “the flight trajectory has been chosen so that parts of the Unha-3 carrier rocket that might fall during takeoff would not affect neighboring countries,” it stressed.

That precautionary note, however, has done little to reduce the anxiety of the international community, especially those in the Pacific region.

South Korea has expressed "grave concern" over Pyongyang’s decision "to launch a long-range missile again in the name of a working satellite," the Yonhap news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young as saying.

In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the launch plan a “provocation” that would violate United Nations resolutions imposed on Pyongyang after past rocket launches.

"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.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged calm.

"North Korea has a right to the peaceful use of space, but this right has been restricted by UN Security Council resolutions. [Beijing] hopes all sides can do more to benefit peace and stability on the peninsula, and hopes all sides handle it calmly to avoid the situation escalating," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

Pyongyang’s planned missile test comes North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, who took power after his father Kim Jong-il’s death last year, looks to prove his political power and prowess.

Pyongyang’s previous missile test occurred on April 13, two days before the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il’s father and North Korea’s founding leader.

Some political observers speculate that North Korea’s planned launch will occur December 17 to mark the anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death.

Robert Bridge, RT

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