North Korea to launch satellite (Lead)

March 16th, 2012 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Pyongyang, March 16 (IANS) North Korea will launch an earth observation satellite next month to mark the 100th birthday of its late founding leader Kim Il-sung, the state news agency KCNA reported Friday.

The Unha-3 rocket carrying the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite will lift off from a launch pad in Cholsan, a coastal town in the country’s northwest, between April 12 and 16, a spokesperson for the Korean Committee for Space Technology said in a statement carried by KCNA, reports RIA Novosti.

“(We) will strictly abide by relevant international regulations and usage concerning the launch of scientific and technological satellites for peaceful purposes and ensure maximum transparency,” the spokesperson said.

Kim Il-sung, revered as the Eternal Sun of Mankind in North Korea, ruled the impoverished communist nation for nearly 50 years before dying in 1994. His birthday, April 15, is commemorated as the Day of the Sun. Massive celebrations are planned for the centenary of his birth.

The announcement came just two weeks after Pyongyang agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, as well as nuclear and long-range missile tests in return for 240,000 tonnes of US food aid.

Next month’s launch is an opportunity for “putting the country’s technology of space use for peaceful purposes on a higher stage”, the spokesperson said.

A similar launch in 2009 drew international criticism and led to UN Security Council sanctions. The North claimed the satellite reached orbit but the US and South Korea said the rocket fell into the Pacific and that the launch was a cover for ballistic missile tests.

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