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NK Tries to Pass Off Missile Test as Space Development

Posted February. 17, 2009 04:52,   


North Korea yesterday said on the occasion of its supreme leader Kim Jong Il’s 67th birthday, “Space development is our independent right and a requirement for improving the nation.”

In the article “Claims that we are preparing to launch a long-distance missile are an insult and an act of provocation against us,” the (North) Korea Central News Agency said, “Hostile forces are spreading groundless rumors based on inaccurate information.”

“One will come to know later what will be launched.”

The statement was reminiscent of Pyongyang’s claim in August 1998, when it said the Taepodong-1 missile it launched was the satellite Kwangmyong Song I. In the same vein, the North might claim to have put a satellite into orbit after firing a missile this time.

In Seoul, a session was held for questioning the government in the plenary session of the National Assembly.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan warned, “Any launch -- whether a missile or satellite (by Pyongyang) – will be a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718.”

Back in Pyongyang, the North’s official daily Rodong Shinmun celebrated Kim’s birthday in an editorial, mentioning “lineage succession.”

“In the luminous lineage of Mount Paektu lies the triumphant future of the juche (self-reliance) revolution,” it said.

“Firmly carrying forward tradition is a matter of great importance for our revolution to succeed and in spreading socialist ideals. Upholding the accomplishments and tradition of our eternal leader (the late Kim Il Sung) will bring a bright future for our nation and revolution.”

“We have been blessed with great leadership (Kim Il Sung) and generalship (Kim Jong Il) generation after generation. We must honor the great songun (military-first) politics with pride and dignity.”

The emphasis on lineage succession is interpreted as an attempt to create conditions for a “third-generation hereditary succession of power” to one of Kim Jong Il’s three sons.

kyle@donga.com spear@donga.com