News / Asia

North Korea Launch Plan Alarms Region

U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea Sung Y. Kim. (2011 File)
U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea Sung Y. Kim. (2011 File)
North Korea's anticipated ballistic missile launch this month is already drawing reaction from its neighbors and the United States.

Ambassadors of the United States, China, Japan and Russia met separately Monday with South Korean Foreign Ministry officials to strategize.

U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim left the meeting saying he had "no comment."

Later, however, the US Embassy released a statement from the Ambassador concerning his meeting with  Presidential Secretary for Foreign Affairs and National Security Chun Young-woo, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ahn Ho-young, and Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Lim Sung-nam.  
 
"Any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology is in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874," the statement said. "We call on North Korea to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions."

The Chinese ambassador to South Korea, Zhang Xinsen, described the talks with Foreign Ministry officials as "in depth and wide ranging discussions on issues of mutual concern" that included "current matters on the Korean peninsula.”

North Korea maintains the launch is a peaceful attempt to place a satellite into orbit. But the U.S. State Department Saturday said a launch would be a “highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region.”

Pyongyang moves closer to launch

The Seoul talks took place as word came North Korea had placed the first stage of its Unha-3 on the launch pad at the Tongchang-ri facility.

The semi-official Yonhap news agency attributes the information to an unnamed South Korean government source.

North Korea on Saturday through its official news agency said a launch would be conducted this month as the country's Committee for Space Technology had “analyzed the mistakes” from April's failed launch and improved the precision and reliability of the Unha-3 rocket and the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite.

North Korea “must immediately retract its plan and heed the international society's request” because the launch would be a “grave provocative act,” said South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk at a Monday briefing for reporters.

In China, which is North Korea's sole significant supporter, the official tone is milder. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says Beijing  has expressed concern about the planned launch.

“The DPRK [North Korea] is entitled to the peaceful use of outer space but is also subject to relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Hong said.

One of the resolutions prohibits North Korea from continuing all activities related to ballistic missiles. Aerospace experts argue the technology to place a satellite into space is the same as that for developing such missiles.

Japan reacts

North Korea's launch plan has prompted Japan to postpone a second round of talks with North Korean officials that were to be held this week in Beijing. The discussion was to center on the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents over decades.

Japan is moving Patriot anti-ballistic missiles to the southern Ryukyu islands to be ready to shoot down the North Korean rocket should it veer off course.

Local Japanese media report that Aegis warships will move into neighboring waters.  And Japan's defense minister, Satosghi Morimoto, has announced ground, marine and air forces are preparing to deploy on the Okinawan island.

This is similar to preparations Japan took prior to North Korea's last attempt, on April 13, which ended with the three-stage Unha-3 rocket disintegrating over the Yellow Sea minutes after lift-off.

But Japan failed, as promised, to promptly notify the public of the launch through a new sophisticated warning system, known as J-Alert.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says that will not happen again.

“We will make efforts so that the correction is available to the Japanese people,” Noda said Monday in a group interview.

Noda and his Democratic Party of Japan are fighting for their political survival in a nationwide parliamentary election to be held December 16.

North Korea's announced launch window is from December 10-22 (between 7 a.m. and noon local time). Some analysts predict a blastoff on December 17, the first anniversary of the death of leader Kim Jong Il.

If this one succeeds, it would give the North a significant propaganda victory over the more prosperous South, which has so far failed on its own to put a satellite into space.

“If North Korea successfully launches a satellite it can publicize that the level of their space technology is higher than South Korea's. But I am skeptical whether the North's space technology will pose a serious threat to the South's national security,” says Professor Ryoo Kihl-jae, at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

 Seoul politics

A more immediate impact is likely to be felt on South Korea's presidential election on December 19 to select a successor to conservative Lee Myung-bak who is limited to a single five-year term.

Some analysts see another North Korean provocation so close to the election giving a boost to conservative Park Geun-hye of the incumbent Saenuri Party, who polls indicate has a slight lead over Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic United Party.

“North Korea’s act will not have a big impact on South Korea’s presidential election, and if it does have any effect it will be positive for Park campaign,” says Professor Ryoo.

Liberal South Korean governments prior to Lee's election pursued a “sunshine policy” towards Pyongyang, hoping engagement would lessen tensions. But North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in the last few years have further isolated it from the international community.

Relations with South Korea also have further deteriorated because of military attacks Seoul blames on Pyongyang.

The two Koreas have no diplomatic ties and still technically remain at war after a 1953 armistice, but no peace treaty ever being signed.


Youmi Kim in the VOA bureau in Seoul contributed to this report.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid