South Korea Warns North Against Rocket Launch
by VOA News September 14, 2015
South Korea on Tuesday warned North Korea against conducting a long-range rocket launch, a day after Pyongyang hinted it may launch a satellite during a key political anniversary next month.
Such an act would be a "serious provocation" and a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions banning the North from conducting ballistic missile tests, according to South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Min-seok.
North Korean officials on Monday vowed to move ahead with plans to launch what they say is a weather satellite into orbit. They gave no timeframe for such a launch, but there has been speculation it could happen October 10, the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling Worker's Party.
While North Korea insists the launch has peaceful purposes, the U.S. and its ally, South Korea, along with many other nations view such moves as disguised tests of the same technology used in ballistic missiles.
After repeated failed attempts, the North successfully placed a weather satellite into orbit in 2012 - a major technological achievement that brought another punishing round of international sanctions against the isolated, communist state.
A fresh rocket launch risks disrupting a period of warming relations between the two Koreas. The two sides in August exchanged artillery fire near their border, but later signed a landmark agreement to improve ties.
Under the deal, the two Koreas next month plan to resume a program of meetings meant to reconnect families separated for decades by their 1950s conflict. Leaders from both countries also plan to hold a series of meetings to discuss improving relations.
Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang are notoriously rocky. The two sides remain in a technical state of war since the Korean War ended in a truce instead of a formal peace treaty.
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