North Korea says it has signed international space treaties

By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 23, 2016 at 10:03 AM
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SEOUL, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- North Korea says it has joined international space law treaties to strengthen the trust of the outside world.

The announcement comes after Kim Jong Un had urged North Korean scientists to "launch more satellites" after sending the earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 into space.

North Korea is making the announcement in response to moves toward tougher sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, and in the United States, South Korea and Japan, Yonhap reported.

Critics have said the North's "peaceful" satellite launch is a cover for a test of the country's long-range ballistic missile technology.

North Korea said it has signed two international agreements on space. KCNA stated that North Korea signed agreements on Monday regarding the rescue and repatriation of astronauts and responsibility for any damage caused by North Korean space objects.

"As a signatory to the agreements, North Korea is to raise international confidence in its space science research and activities and strengthen cooperation with other countries," Pyongyang said in statement.

The international law North Korea claims to have signed appears to be the 1968 U.N. Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space.

The 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects also seems relevant to North Korea's announcement.

The move comes after Kim Jong Un told satellite engineers on Feb. 17 North Korea needs to step up the trust of the international community regarding its satellite projects.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in South Korea, said the announcement seems to have been made to increase the legitimacy of North Korea's space program that is being developed for peaceful purposes, according to Pyongyang.

Yang also said North Korea is taking the step in order to respond to increased sanctions.

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