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NKorea claims satellite program peaceful in nature

The project, however, could be a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test, according to analysts.

By Elizabeth Shim
NKorea claims satellite program peaceful in nature
North Korea's KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile was featured in a 2012 parade. File photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, June 12 (UPI) -- North Korea lashed out at the United States for its criticism of a project that could be a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test, according to analysts.

Pyongyang claimed its satellite development program is peaceful in nature and the aim of an October launch is to place a North Korean satellite into orbit, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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On Thursday an unnamed North Korea Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying Pyongyang has no intention of giving up on space development simply because its "enemies" want to deny North Korea the opportunity to develop satellites.

The spokesman said U.S. claims that the rocket launch of a North Korean satellite is a U.N. Security Council resolution violation also is a "reckless violation of [North Korean] sovereignty," in an interview with North Korean state television KCNA.

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Only the U.S. is making the project difficult, the North Korean official said.

North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration has said it is developing a new Earth observation satellite and defended its right to conduct rocket tests.

A new satellite control center has been built adjacent to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's residence but Voice of America reported the actual launch platform for the October rocket is being rebuilt in Cholsan county, in North Pyongan province.

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Shin In-kyun, a military expert who runs the Korea Defense Network in South Korea, said if the satellite North Korea launches weighs around one ton, then it is likely a satellite simulating the launch of a nuclear warhead.

A rocket used to launch a satellite is not remarkably different from a rocket used to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Former South Korean Unification Minister Kang In-duk said Kim Jong Un wants to solidify his power base, and the highly publicized satellite launch is a way to boost his profile inside North Korea.

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