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North Korea recently notified the UN about the testing of what it calls an “earth observation satellite.” The announcement was predictably met with a sizable volume of disapproval and concern, mainly from Japan, South Korea and the United States, all of which believe the supposed satellite to be a cover for another banned missile test – a missile that could potentially hit the West Coast of the United States. North Korea announced to the UN that it will launch the rocket somewhere between Feb. 8 and 25.
The North asserts its right to have a “space program,” and claims that said programs have always been peaceful. This particular launch, however, would potentially allow the reclusive state to test some of the technology needed for a long-range nuclear strike.
North Korea is, of course, no stranger to nuclear and missile testing. Its last long-range missile was launched in 2012 and was considered the nation’s first successful satellite propelled into orbit. Last month it was announced that North Korea had tested a hydrogen bomb – its fourth nuclear test. The international community is still undecided on a punishment for this particular action.
A large amount of international concern has been raised regarding the missiles. UN sanctions currently prevent North Korea from carrying out any nuclear or ballistic missile testing. Even China, which has historically practiced close diplomatic relations with North Korea, has expressed contempt for the testing.
The US has advised China to introduce “comprehensive economic sanctions against North Korea,” which could potentially deteriorate North Korea’s economy, as 75% of its economic exchange is with China.
In the mean time, the US military will reportedly keep on the lookout for increased threats of a missile attack and respond by expanding its defenses, while South Korea has asserted that it will shoot down any missile parts that violate its airspace.
Photo courtesy of Center for Security Policy