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Seoul closely watching N. Korean media reports on global space development

All News 11:50 December 27, 2019

SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is closely monitoring recent North Korean media reports on space development activities by foreign countries, the unification ministry said Friday, amid concern Pyongyang could conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test disguised as a satellite launch.

On Friday, the North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, carried an article on Russia's launch of a satellite earlier this week, days after another report covering various ongoing efforts for global space development.

Those reports raised speculation that North Korea might be gearing up for a long-range rocket launch as Pyongyang has been threatening to seek a "new way" in its nuclear negotiations with the United States.

North Korea claims that its satellite launch is a legitimate exercise of the right for the peaceful use of space. But such launches are banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions as Pyongyang has long been accused of using long-range rocket launches as a pretext for test-firing ICBMs.

Experts say long-range rockets and ICBMs are basically the same with differences only in payloads.

"We have been closely watching related reports," the ministry's deputy spokesperson Kim Eun-han told a regular press briefing.

North Korea has been ratcheting up tensions after months of stalemate in its denuclearization talks with the U.S.

Earlier this month, North Korea said it will hold a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party in late December to decide on "crucial issues," stoking speculation Pyongyang could make a major policy shift with regard to the nuclear talks with the U.S.

This file photo, released by the North's Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station on Feb. 7, 2016, shows North Korea's Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite being fired from the Dongchang-ri launch site in Cholsan, North Pyongan Province. (Yonhap)


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