Russia has said that North Korea’s planned rocket launch showed disregard for U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Stalinist state’s nuclear and weapons programs, as the North announced on Tuesday new technical developments for its missile.
“Pyongyang’s decision to conduct the launch of an earth satellite is viewed (by Russia) as an example of disregard for decisions adopted by the U.N. Security Council,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told the RIA Novosti news agency.
North Korea, which is pressing ahead with plans for a satellite launch despite U.S. and regional objections, is also preparing a third nuclear test, South Korean news reports said on Sunday.
Another nuclear test would almost certainly alarm neighbors and infuriate the West, which has long sought to curb the North’s nuclear ambitions.
North Korea has already tested nuclear weapons and has drawn international condemnation for announcing plans to launch a satellite sometime from April 12 to 16.
On Sunday, the North announced that it is set to complete the assembly of its latest rocket by installing the satellite payload later Tuesday, a senior space official confirmed, AFP news agency reported.
“We are expecting to complete assembly by today,” Ryu Kum-Chol, deputy director of the space development department at the communist state’s Committee for Space Technology, told foreign journalists in Pyongyang.
Ryu also insisted that debris from the launch, which is scheduled to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding leader, posed no danger to countries in the region.
“We’ve chosen a safe trajectory. The first stage will fall 100 miles (160 kilometers) from land (in the Philippines), and the second stage 120 miles from land,” he said.
But in case of any problem with the trajectory, the official said that the rocket was “capable of self-destruction” from ground control.
Impoverished but nuclear-armed North Korea says the rocket will propel the 100-kilogram (220-pound) Kwangmyongsong-3 (Shining Star) satellite into orbit to collect data on forests and natural resources within its territory.
The North insists the launch is a peaceful space project timed to mark the centenary of the birth of late founding president Kim Il-Sung. But world powers view it as a disguised missile test.
The Russian army’s general staff said it would closely track the rocket amid fears in Moscow that its trajectory could take it over the Kuril Islands off the coast of Japan.
A senior military source said Russian space defense forces would be tracking the rocket “at all stages of its flight, up to the satellite’s detachment.”
Meanwhile, China on Tuesday reiterated its calls for calm and restraint on the Korean peninsula as North Korea said it was nearing completion of preparations to launch a rocket condemned by the West as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
All sides should respect international law to prevent the worsening of tensions on the peninsula, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing.