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Space

North Korea's satellite launch will not affect Taiwan: official

ROC Central News Agency

2012/12/03 13:53:32

Taipei, Dec. 3 (CNA) North Korea's planned satellite launch will not pose any security threat to Taiwan because of the big distance between the two countries, a senior National Security Bureau (NSB) official said Monday.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported last weekend that North Korea's polar-orbiting earth observation satellite will blast off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province, carried by an Unha-3 rocket, sometime between Dec. 10 and 22.

North Korean scientists and technicians have "analyzed the mistakes that were made during the previous April launch" -- which was a failure -- and have been working to improve the precision of the satellite and the carrier rocket, according to the report.

With South Korea set to hold its once-in-five-years presidential election Dec. 19, North Korea's satellite launch plan has drawn international concern.

In response to questions on the issue by ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lai Shyh-bao, NSB Deputy Director-General Chang Kuang-yuan said the launch will not affect Taiwan as the satellite's planned trajectory is far away from the island.

On whether North Korea will launch a satellite or a missile, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said that while the technologies involved in both types of launches are transferrable, missiles and satellites are based on different launch azimuths.

Intelligence on North Korea's failed rocket launch in April suggested that it was a satellite rather than a guided missile, Kao said, adding that it remains to be seen what North Korea will launch this time around.

Meanwhile, Kao said a newspaper report that Taiwan's Kidd-class destroyers will conduct its first-ever overseas live-fire exercise in Hawaii next year was pure speculation.

The Navy made a proposal along those lines in 2008, but it was not implemented due to various obstacles, he said.

"We do not have any overseas training exercises planned for our Kidd-class warships at the moment," Kao said.

On Sunday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement urging North Korea to take seriously the international community's concern over its plan to launch a rocket carrying a satellite payload later this month.

Pyongyang should help maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the East Asia region, in line with related regulations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, the statement said.

The U.N. Security Council resolution, passed in 2009, states that North Korea is restricted from conducting any nuclear tests or any launches using ballistic missile technology.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Sofia Wu)



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