UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador said Tuesday the country plans to launch many more satellites and accused the United States of trying to block its efforts to help peacefully develop outer space.
Kim In Ryong told a U.N. General Assembly committee meeting on "International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space" that the country's five-year plan for 2016-2020 includes development of "practical satellites that can contribute to the economic development and improvement of the people's living."
As a party to several space treaties, North Korea's space development activities are "all ground on legal basis in all aspects," Kim said.
But he said the United States is "going frantic to illegalize our development of outer space," claiming the effort violates U.N. sanctions.
"The U.S. is the country that launched the largest number of satellites and yet it claims that our launch of satellites is a threat to international peace and security," Kim said. "This is a preposterous allegation and extreme double standards."
The United Nations, the U.S. and other countries view the North's space launch development project as a cover for tests of missile technology, as ballistic missiles and rockets in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology. North Korea is also openly working on developing nuclear-armed missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
Kim said the treaty on outer space states that it is "a common asset of humankind and all countries can develop outer space without any discrimination." He said no article states that satellite launches threaten international peace and security, "nor is there any article stipulating that one cannot use ballistic rocket technology in launching a satellite." He said the U.S. relies on "illegal" U.N. resolutions, referring to Security Council actions taken in response to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Kim said North Korea's right "to produce and launch artificial satellites will not be changed just because the U.S. denies it."
He said North Korea launched its first pilot communications satellite, Kwangmyongsong-1, in August 1998. In February 2016, with the successful entry into orbit of Kwangmyongsong-4, he said the country "entered the practical satellite developing stage."
Last September, Kim said, North Korea successfully tested a new high-thrust motor for the launch vehicle for a geostationary satellite, which "opened up a broad avenue to the exploration of outer space." He said a successful ground test on March 18 "signified a great leap in the development of space technology and consolidated the scientific and technological foundation to match the world-level satellite delivery capability in the field of outer space development."
North Korea "will launch many more practical satellites" and "will continue its peaceful development of space" while strengthening international cooperation and exchanges in that field, the ambassador said.