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DPRK to fire satellite

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will test-launch a communication satellite, the official KCNA news agency cited a space department spokesman as saying today.

The satellite will be fired by the "Galaxy 2" space launch vehicle in the East Sea Space Launching Base located in Hwadae County, the North Hamgyong province, said a spokesman for the DPRK Committee of Space Technology.

He said the preparation works were underway, but didn't specify the date of the launching.

The DPRK has pushed ahead with researches and development for putting satellite into orbit "by its own efforts and technology since 1980s," and achieved great success as putting its first experimental satellite "Kwangmyongsong-1" into orbit in August 1998, the spokesman said.

As the first phase of its national long-term plan for space development, the country is expected to launch satellites for communications, prospecting of natural resources and weather forecast in a few years to come, which will contribute to the building of an economic power.

The DPRK in the past few weeks said it had the right to develop a peaceful space program which is centered on a multi-stage rocket.

But there are doubts that the country's move could actually be a test-launch of its longest-range missile.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, in 1998, the DPRK made a similar claim after launching a rocket, saying it succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit. But the United States at that time alleged the rocket was a ballistic missile named "Taepodong-1."

The US and South Korean media have repeatedly reported in recent days the DPRK was going to test-fire a ballistic missile "Taepodong-2" with a maximum estimated range of 6,700 km, designed to carry a nuclear warhead that could hit US territory. US officials have warned DPRK against the launching.


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