March 17, 2012

DPRK to invite int'l observers to satellite launch

Updated: 2012-03-18 11:46

BEIJING - With international concerns growing over the planned satellite launch of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Pyongyang has decided to invite foreign experts to observe the launch.

The European Union (EU) on Saturday expressed its worries and called on the country to refrain from the launch plan, which would see the DPRK launch an "earth observation" satellite in April to mark the 100th birthday of late leader Kim Il Sung.

"This launch would be contrary to DPRK's international obligations, in particular under UN Security Council resolution 1874," the spokesperson of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

"It would also undermine ongoing diplomatic efforts to create an environment conducive for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks on the nuclear issue," the statement added.

Ashton calls on the DPRK to confirm as a matter of urgency that it will refrain from the proposed launch and to resume work on mutual confidence building, according to the spokesperson.

The United States, Russia, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United Nations have all voiced their concerns over the DPRK's move, and China has expressed hope that "parties concerned stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid escalation of tension that may lead to a more complicated situation."

The DPRK said it would use a long-range Unha-3 rocket to launch the satellite, and has insisted that its satellite launches are for peaceful and scientific purposes.
Amid mounting concerns from the international community, the DPRK's official news agency KCNA said Saturday that the country would invite international observers to monitor the launch.

The Korean Committee for Space Technology would "invite experienced foreign experts on space science and technology and journalists to visit the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the General Satellite Control and Command Center and other places and observe its launch," the agency reported.

It also said the DPRK had informed the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Telecommunication Union and others in line with international regulations and procedures.

Meanwhile, the KCNA said the DPRK people believe that the upcoming launch will be a success after the successful launches in 1998 and 2009."There is no doubt that the forthcoming satellite launch will be successful as it was manufactured entirely with domestic technology," the KCNA quoted Kim Sun Hui, a mechanical engineering professor at Pyongyang University, as saying.

"The previous successful launch of two experimental satellites had led to solid material and technological foundations for the upcoming launch and its normal operation," he added.However, some countries including the ROK, Russia and the United States said the DPRK's 2009 launch of a communications satellite was a failure.


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