North Korea says to launch "satellite" to mark founder's birth

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 15, 2012 11:54 PM
North Korea says to launch "satellite" to mark founder's birth

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Friday it would launch a "working" satellite to mark the centenary of its founder Kim Il-sung's birth next month even though it recently said it would suspend long-range missile testing as part of talks with the United States.

Foreign officials have said the past launches are disguised long-range missile tests. The North said on Friday it had already launched two experimental satellites.

"The DPRK is to launch a working satellite, Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by itself with indigenous technology to mark the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il-sung," the North's official KCNA said quoting a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology.

The launch will take place between April 12-16, KCNA said.

North Korea has used the name "Kwangmyongsong" to refer to what is called outside the reclusive country the "Taepodong" long-range missiles which were tested in 1998 and in 2009.

The spokesman said the launch would "offer an important occasion of putting the country's technology of space use for peaceful purposes on a higher stage."

In the 2009 launch, the North insisted the satellite made it into orbit and played revolutionary communist songs, despite officials in the United States and South Korea saying there were no indications of a satellite reaching space.

North Korea has agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear tests in discussions with Washington to try to resume stalled nuclear disarmament talks and win U.S. food aid.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by David Chance)