Concerns raised over North Korea’s long-range missile ambitions

| October 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

NK-weapon-addA European Parliament event was told there is rising concern North Korea may be preparing to launch controversial long-range missiles. The hearing, ’70 years of division’, was held to debate the role the EU might play in possible reunification of North and South Korea.  Participants at the one day conference also heard how the lessons from German reuninifcation might be useful for the two Koreas.

It was told that the North will not be deterred from plans to launch controversial long-range missiles by the threat of further sanctions from the West.

Pyongyang insists the launches are part of a peaceful satellite programme but the US and its allies say they are disguised ballistic missile tests and a key component of a nuclear weapons development scheme.

A source at South Korea’ mission to the EU said that Pyongyang could fire one of the rockets on 10 October to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party, a key political anniversary for the secretive nation.

UK Tory MEP Nirj Deva told the hearing, on Thursday, that while the north is an “autocractic” state, the south is a thriving democracy and the fourth largest economy in Asia.

Launching a missile, the event heard, would invite fresh sanctions from the west, and probably derail plans for an inter Korean family reunion set for late October.

Expert analysis of recent satellite images suggest North Korea has completed upgrades at its main Sohae satellite launch site, although analysts also say there has been no sign of activity to suggest an imminent launch

North Korea has been trying to perfect a multi-stage long-range rocket for decades, and used one to put its first satellite into space in late 2012 after several failures.

The UN said it was a banned test of ballistic missile technology, as rockets in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology with missles, and imposed sanctions.

The country insists its satellite project is peaceful and the global restrictions placed on it are unfair.

Earlier this month US secretary of state John Kerry warn North Korea would face “severe consequences” if it continued with its announced decision to restart a nuclear reactor.

Meanwhile, the north’s ambassador to the UK, Hyon Hak-bong, told an audience at London’s Chatham House that his government would consider any escalation of sanctions “another provocation” and would not be deterred.

“We have nothing to be afraid of. We will go ahead, definitely, surely,” Hyon said. “We are prepared to launch at any time or any place.”

“Launching satellites is the work performed by every country, it is the legitimate right of a sovereign state to develop a space programme,” Hyon said. “They wouldn’t use any such kind of sanctions against other countries.”

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Category: A Frontpage, EU, European Parliament, North Korea, South Korea, World

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