SEOUL, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- North Korea's space agency has been accepted as a member of the International Astronautical Federation, a major coup for Pyongyang's claim of peaceful development, but its missiles could be more powerful that previously estimated.
The National Aerospace Development Administration, the North Korean body responsible for satellite launches, officially became an IAF member, NK News reported Monday.
Tal Inbar, a participant at IAF's 66th congress in Jerusalem, said the North Korean representative was not present at the time of the announcement.
"[It] is a very interesting move," said Inbar, and added the new development could help with Pyongyang's push to represent its satellite launch program as peaceful.
"The approval of the IAF will be beneficial to North Korea in its efforts in the international arena...[but] the bureau of the federation made it clear that the [approval of the] North Korean space agency is purely scientific in nature, and not political."
The IAF "actively encourages the development of astronautics for peaceful purposes," and as part of its application, North Korea disclosed an annual budget of $116.8 million -- less than the $850 million budgeted toward the December 2012 "Unha-3" launch.
In September, Pyongyang reaffirmed its intention to launch a long-range rocket and defended its "sovereign right" to conduct scientific research. Seoul and Washington oppose the rocket launches, which are believed to be part of North Korea's plan to test ballistic missile technology. More sanctions could follow if Pyongyang launches satellites around the time of the 70th anniversary.
North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missile also is under scrutiny in South Korea. Chosun Ilbo reported Tuesday that Pyongyang's SLBM could travel more than 1,700 miles after launch.
Chae Yeon-seok, a scientist at Korea University of Science and Technology in Daejeon, stated in a recently published paper that "[North Korea's] Polaris 1 missile could travel 1,740 miles while carrying a warhead that weighs 1,433 pounds."
North Korea had released footage of the missile to YouTube in May.