02/24/2009, 00.00
KOREA
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Pyongyang ready to launch “satellite”

The communist government claims it is “rocket for spatial communications”. Analysts do not exclude the possibility it is a missile capable of carrying a nuclear war head. The South Korean foreign minister in Beijing to discuss the North’s nuclear ambitions. Pyongyang has increased its military spending, but the population continues to starve.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korea says it is preparing to launch a telecommunications satellite on one of its rockets, which analysts have said could actually be a test-launch of its longest-range missile Taepodong-2. The satellite would be capable of containing atomic warheads and could reach Alaska or the US western seaboard.

The launch may take place on March 8th next from Donghae, North Hamgyong province, to mark the renewal of the North Korean National Parliament.

Fresh rumours of another imminent missile launch by Pyongyang are alarming the international community and regional neighbours.  Japan says it is ready to face an ‘emergency’ situation.  Today the South Korean foreign minister travelled to Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart and discuss the North Korean issue.

Yesterday Seoul also published its white paper report on Defence, which defines North Korean regime a "direct and serious” threat.  Its military had grown to 1.19 million, an increase of 20,000 from 2006, while the number of its lightly equipped special forces trained to swiftly infiltrate South Korea had increased 50%; it reiterated a 2006 assessment that North Korea possesses 2,500 to 5,000 tonnes of chemical weapons. Military expenditure decided by Pyongyang weighs heavily on the North Korean population, which continues to starve and the children continue to be exploited as a “working force”.

 

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