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DPRK Space Policy

North Korea says despite being slapped with global sanctions, it will continue to work to put more advanced satellites into orbit and even aim for a lunar exploration. The Associated Press held an exclusive interview with a senior official at North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration in Pyongyang.

Hyon Kwang-il, director of the agency's scientific research department said that even though the US and its allies try to block the communist country's space development, its aerospace scientists will "conquer space and definitely plant the North Korean flag on the moon." Hyon said the current five-year plan, at the order of leader Kim Jong-un, focuses on launching more Earth observation satellites and what would be the country's first geostationary communications satellite by 2020. He said that for this aim, universities are also expanding programs to train rocket scientists.

The director said the North also intends "to do manned spaceflight and scientific experiments in space, make a flight to the moon and moon exploration and also exploration to other planets," adding that he personally, would like to see that happen within ten years' time. He asserted that his country will launch more satellites, no matter if anyone thinks otherwise.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who keeps a comprehensive blog detailing international satellites and launches, remarked that "It would be a significant increase in technology, not one that is beyond them, but you have to debug each bit." As the US made its first lunar flyby only six months after launching its first satellite, and Russia did the same a year and a half after launching its first satellites, McDowell suggested that, "…it's not ridiculous to attempt a moon mission early in your space program, given their low flight rate of one mission every few years. I think it is hard to see them succeeding in this in the next five years, but possible to see them attempting it."

Markus Schiller, an expert on North Korean missiles, said that launching a geostationary satellite would be a more viable undertaking for the country than a moon landing. "Judging from what I have seen so far with their space program, it will take North Korea about a decade or more to get to lunar orbit, at best," he said.

DPRK State Space Policy Statements

DPRK State Space Policy Pronouncements Driven by its fiscal Five Year Plan Requirements

Then on June 20, 2006 North Korea restated its past policy statements that "North Korea as a sovereign State has the full autonomy right to develop, deploy, test fire and export its missiles" i.e. to conduct ballistic missile and space booster launches and tests and that other outsider nations have no right to criticize or, by inference, interfere with its plans. This was reaffirmed in early 2009 several times. North Korean then went on to suggest that if there are any issues with its policy, the US should seek to resolve them through direct talks on this and other strategic systems questions.

North Korea on February 7, 2009 seemingly answering the world about its missile activities in a kind of off transparency indicated that the up coming launch was a space program launch attempt. Although it clearly was a satellite launch attempt utilizing an available military strategic ballistic missile booster being flight tested. The Rodong Sinmun, the official State run daily newspaper of the ruling Worker's Party (communist party), said that the North had every right to develop a space program, as a member of the international community. Further it stated “The DPRK’s (Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea) policy of advancing to space for peaceful purposes is a justifiable aim that fits the global trend of the times. There is no power in the world that can stop it. As long as developing and using space are aimed at peaceful purposes and such efforts contribute to enhancing human beings” happiness, no one in the world can find fault with them,” according to the newspaper editorial. This effectively rejected any international pressure that is being applied to North Korea to not fly the space launch. It also demonstrated the impact of the recent Iranian first satellite launch impact on North Korea. (7)

North Korea on February 15/16, 2009 repeating the previous statement from the February 7, 2009 editorial in the Rodong Sinmun, the official State run daily newspaper with more emphasis in a statement by the official Korean Central News Agency as follows:

“Recently the U. S and some other countries claimed that the DPRK is making “preparations for launching long-range missile”. This is a vicious trick to put a break on the wheel of not only the DPRK’s building of military capability for self-defense but also scientific research for peaceful purposes under the pretext of missile.”

“One will come to know later what will be launched in the DPRK. Space development is the independent right of the DPRK and the requirement of the developing reality.” “Dishonest forces are asserting that the DPRK is doing provocative deed in order to draw attention from anyone. But, such assertions itself is an insult to the DPRK. The DPRK has no need to draw anyone’s attention and wants nobody to interfere or meddle in the issues of the Korean Peninsula where only the Koreans live .” (13) For the second time this semi transparent statement makes it clear that the booster flight test is a planned space launch as it was in 2006. The certainty of the North Korean planned “ Unha-2 (Galaxy-2)/Paektusan-2” booster with its “Gwangmyeongseong-2” satellite launch was made clear with the above statement. “Paektusan-2” booster with its “Gwangmyeongseong-2” is the correct nomenclature for the North Koreans Taep’o-dong-2 class booster and its spacecraft launched in 2006 and later on April being prepared for launch.

On February 23-24, 2009 the DPRK, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced to the world that the DPRK,Committee of Space Technology had stated :

“Outer space is an asset common to mankind and its use for peaceful purposes has become a global trend.

The DPRK (North Korea) has steadily pushed ahead with researches and development for putting satellites into orbit by its own efforts and technology since the 1980s, pursuant to its government's policy for the development of space and its peaceful use.

In this course, scientists and technicians of the DPRK registered such great success as putting its first experimental satellite Kwangmyongsong-1 (called the Taepodong-1 missile outside of North Korea) into orbit at one try in August 1998.

Over the past decade since then a dynamic struggle has been waged to put the nation's space science and technology on a higher level, bringing about signal progress in the field of satellite launch.

The DPRK envisages launching practical satellites for communications, prospecting of natural resources and weather forecast, essential for the economic development of the country in a few years to come and putting their operation on a normal footing at the first phase of the state long-term plan for space development.” which could be duel purpose in their missions serving military and civil requirements.

“At the moment, full-scale preparations are underway for launching experimental communications satellite Gwangmyeongseong-2 (Lodestar-2) by means of delivery rocket Unha-2 (Galaxy-2), are now making brisk headway at Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground (infrastructure) in Hwadae County, North Hamgyong Province.

When this satellite launch proves successful, the nation's space science and technology will make another giant stride forward in building an economic power."
This confirms the Five Year Plan relationship to what is taking place with in the DPRK.(18)

But additional information was revealed by the Yonhap News Agency, on Feb. 24, 2009 according to a South Korean intelligence officials and other sources under condition of anonymity, that …Pyongyang has yet to load fuel into the launch pad” and that “The missile, ….., has yet to be mounted on the the launch pad.” There was also the caveat that “ ..”Iran has likely shared its technology with North Korea.” , as was actually documented in 2006. (18)


7. N. Korea Pursuing Space program, Seoul AFP, Feb. 7, 2009, p. 1-2, http://www.spacewars.com/

13. N. Korea denies missile plan, defends activity as “space Development”, Seoul, Yonhap News Agency, Feb. 16, 2009 & reporting by Jack Kim, , editing by Jon Herskovitz and Dean Yates, North Korea has right to launch missile-KCNA, Reuters, Feb. 16, 2009,P. 1.

18. By Sam Kim, N. Korea expected to be fully ready for rocket launch ahead of election:source, Yonhap News Agency, Feb. 24, 2009, p.1, and By Kim Hyun, N. Korea says it is preparing to launch “satellite”, Yonhap News Agency, Feb. 24, 2009 p. 1-2, along with N. Korea Insists It Will Launch “Satellite”, The Chosun Ilbo, Feb. 25, 2009, p.1, and Edited by Dean Yates, TEXT-North Korea says preparing satellite launch, Reuters, Feb. 23, 2009, p. 1.

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Page last modified: 08-08-2016 19:54:05 ZULU