Friday, March 16, 2012

N. Korea Plans to Launch Long-Range Rocket

North Korea announced that it intends to launch a rocket into space carrying a satellite between April 12 and April 16. The announcement comes just weeks after the North agreed to suspend long-range missile tests. Click here for the story.

Even if it is for peaceful/prestige purposes, which is most unlikely, the launch will be closely observed and has most likely been paid for in whole or in part by North Korea's together-"in-one-trench" partner in proliferation, Iran. On March 5, Foreign Confidential™ noted:

The period from April 15, when North Korea will mark the centennial birthday of the country's founder and "Eternal President," Kim Il Sung, to July 27, the day the Korean War armistice was signed in 1953--called a "Commemorative Day of War Victory" in the North--is particularly dangerous in light of a possible U.S. or Israeli conflict with Iran this spring.

Weather permitting, Pyongyang will make every effort possible to fire the missile on April 15.

Click here to read more about North Korea's nuclear and missile tests and Iran.

UPDATE: The launch is to take place at a new facility in North Pyongan province. VOA News published satellite photographs, 13 months ago, showing the progress of construction at the all-weather Tongchang-ri base

North Korea's broadcast announcement emphasized the flight path will be towards the southwest.

The North Korean announcer said the flight path has been safely set and will avoid neighboring states, thus there is no possibility of debris falling on them--an indirect reference to South Korea and Japan.

A statement from South Korea's Foreign Ministry says any attempt by the North to place its own satellite into orbit would clearly violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874 banning all launches using ballistic-missile technology. It adds this would be a "grave provocation" for regional peace and security.