North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un said more satellite launches are needed to help develop the nation’s economy and technology industry, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
Kim visited the control center and gave the launch order for a long-range rocket that placed a satellite into orbit on Dec. 12, KCNA reported. The totalitarian regime’s use of ballistic-missile technology was unanimously condemned by the United Nations Security Council.
“Kim Jong Un expressed great satisfaction over the successful launch of the satellite by our scientists and technicians and highly estimated their feats,” KCNA said. “He stressed the need to continue to launch satellites in the future, too, to develop the country’s science, technology and economy.”
Further launches will add to rising regional tension in East Asia, where Japan, China and South Korea are embroiled in disputes over island ownership that have disrupted trade. South Korea holds its presidential election next week, while voters in Japan are forecast to favor Shinzo Abe, who has pledged to boost military spending, as the next prime minister in elections on Dec. 16.
The Obama administration denounced the rocket test earlier this week, with National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor calling it “a highly provocative act” that jeopardizes regional security.
North Korea’s missile program is now on a par with what the U.S. and the Soviet Union achieved in the 1950s, according to David Maxwell, the associate director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University in Washington. It’s unclear whether the regime is able yet to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to fit it on a missile, Maxwell said.
A failed rocket test in April led the U.S. to cancel a food aid program to North Korea, where two-thirds of the population suffer from chronic malnutrition. Kim, who succeeded his father Kim Jong Il a year ago, has also shown no readiness to respond to calls from the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan and Russia to return to six-party talks aimed at getting the regime to abandon its nuclear program.
The UN Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea’s rocket launch, calling it a “clear violation” of UN prohibitions.
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