North Korea released news on Thursday that it has reported the launch of its supposed satellite “Kwangmyungsung-2” to the relevant organizations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO).
According to the Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA), “The Chosun Outer Space Technology Committee (OSTC) reported materials relating to the navigational security of aircraft and vessels to the ICAO and IMO, as per the related regulations, as part of preparations for the launch of ‘Eunha-2,’ the rocket being used for launching the test communications satellite ‘Kwangmyungsung-2.’”
The KCNA reported that North Korea has signed up to international treaties relevant to the principles of space exploration and to orbiting projectiles. It added, “The reason why we joined these international treaties was so that international faith in North Korea would be enhanced and North Korea could step forward and strengthen international cooperation.”
According to an OSTC announcement on the 24th of last month, “Preparations for the launch of ‘Eunha-2,’ a conveyance rocket, to carry test communications satellite ‘Kangmyungsung-2,’ are proceeding.”
In 1998, North Korea also called the launch of the long-range missile “Taepodong-1” the launch of an artificial satellite called “Kwangmyungsung-1.” When North Korea launched the missile (or the satellite), it was widely criticized by international society because it has not reported the launch to the ICAO and IMO in advance.
Therefore, the reason why the North joined the international organizations and reported the launch ahead of time seems to be so as to subsequently claim more convincingly that Kwangmyungsung-2 is an artificial satellite and also to show its intent to fire whatever it is, irrespective of international concerns.
The head of the Committee for Defense Issue Studies Kim Tae Woo said to Daily NK, “It is a part of efforts for the legality of Kwangmyungsung-2 to be acknowledged and to avoid possible interception by the U.S. or Japan. Although North Korea reported it to international organizations, the missile problem has not been completely solved.” He explained the reason, “North Korea has not shown any transparency about its development of nuclear weapons and missiles until quite recently.
Kim predicts that, “The countermeasures to the North’s move to launch the Taepodong-2 by the U.S. and Japan cannot be altered.” International society, including the U.S., is keeping the same stance on the North’s launch; that it is a violation of U.N. Security Resolution No. 1718 whether it is a missile or not, because a space launch can be used for both intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellites as well.
According to the notification issued to the members of the IMO, the scheduled date and time of the launch is from 2 A.M. to 7 A.M. (GMT) between the 4th and 8th of April. The anticipated spot where the rocket’s first stage should fall is in international waters between Wonsan in North Korea and Sakata in Japan, and the second stage can be expected to come down into the Pacific between Japan and Hawaii, as long as all goes according to the North Korean plan, which the first launch of the “Taepodong-2,” in 2006, did not.