SEOUL, July 30 (UPI) -- A North Korean diplomat in Geneva said Pyongyang has a sovereign right to launch satellites and confirmed an "expansion" is underway at Sohae Satellite Launching Station.
So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, made the statement while suggesting Pyongyang may launch a long-range rocket to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party on Oct. 10, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.
North Korea has defended its "peaceful" rocket launches and claims its aim is to place a satellite into orbit, but analysts suspect the tests are preparations to deliver weapons of mass destruction to specific targets.
The North Korean diplomat did not reveal details about activities at Sohae, but said an "expansion is taking place" at the site in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province.
On Tuesday, Jang Il Hun, North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador in New York, had said preparations are underway for a large-scale celebration of the Workers' Party's 70th anniversary. Yonhap reported the statement was suggesting that a rocket launch was likely around the time of the event.
North Korea's envoys to the U.N. are not the only diplomats defending the country's clandestine programs.
Kim Hyong Jun, North Korea's ambassador to Moscow, told Russian news agency Interfax on Wednesday, "North Korea is a nuclear power" and that "[North Korea] is not interested in unilateral calls for denuclearization."
North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong made similar remarks before the Chinese press on Tuesday, South Korean television network KBS reported.