North Korea Takes Launch Site Public

North Korea has ramped up its public relations offensive, showing off what it calls its ‘Unha-3’ launch vehicle and ‘Gwangmyungsung-3’ satellite to international news organizations including Associated Press (AP), Reuters, Russia’s ITAR-TASS and Japan’s Kyodo News.

The invited media were offered unprecedented access to the site; including not only a look at the Unha-3 rocket itself but also the inside of the rocket command and control facility. Photos of the site have since travelled around the world.

Pushing the transparency of the visit, launch site manager Jang Myung Jin was cited by Kyodo News as saying that “Neither the United States nor China allows this level of access,” while another site official commented while showing off the small satellite, “Not only will it take high-resolution earth observation pictures, it will also transmit the songs of Premier Kim Il Sung and National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il.”

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has urged greater cooperation to deal with North Korea’s launch following talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in the city of Ningbo. He commented that China is aware that the launch will have a negative impact on the region and is working to try and get North Korea to cancel it, but emphasised the need for closer regional cooperation and communication to deal with the issue.

“The Chinese side is troubled by the developments, and strongly encourages everyone involved on all sides, at high and low levels, to remain calm and reasonable,” Yang asserted to reporters. “These issues need to be worked out in a diplomatic and peaceful manner.”