North Korea on Sunday, March 18 reiterated its commitment to launching a satellite in the face of protests by its neighbours and the US, who view the move as a disguised missile test, AFP reported.
The North announced Friday it would launch a long-range rocket carrying a satellite between April 12-16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founding president Kim Il-Sung.
Pyongyang insists the programme is part of peaceful space research, and on Sunday railed against the “double standards” of the US, which with other nations believe it is effectively a missile test.
The US, Japan, South Korea and the EU said the plan, announced just 16 days after Pyongyang agreed to suspend long-range missile tests in return for the US food aid, would breach a UN ban imposed after previous missile launches.
But the North’s state-run KCNA on Sunday called the criticism “a base move… to encroach upon our sovereignty” and accused the US and Japan of “space espionage” by monitoring other nations with their own satellites.
It also criticised “hostile forces” including Washington, Tokyo and Seoul of using the planned satellite launch to heap “political, military and economic pressure” on Pyongyang.
The launch by the impoverished but nuclear-armed state North is set to jeopardise a February 29 agreement with Washington, which had raised hopes of eased tension under the new leader Kim Jong-Un.
Pyongyang agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, along with long-range missile launches and nuclear tests, in return for 240,000 tonnes of much-needed US food aid.
The US State Department called the proposed satellite launch “highly provocative” and a threat to regional security.