NK must pay price for launch: Seoul

By Xu Tianran Source:Global Times Published: 2012-12-6 0:55:06

South Korea has warned that the North must pay a price if it moves ahead with its plan to fire a long-range rocket, which has been reported to be in the final stages of preparation and is expected to launch early next week.

"If the North pushes ahead with the launch, it will have to some degree pay a price," South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan was quoted by Yonhap as saying on Wednesday, adding it has been looking into sanctions to punish the North.

According to the latest satellite images, all three stages of the Unha-3 rocket have been assembled on the launch pad at the Dongchang-ri base bordering China, a South Korean official told the Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity Wednesday, noting that some workers were pulling out of the site.

It is expected that support equipment, such as radar, cameras and measuring equipment will be installed before fueling the rocket. The first stage was put on the pad on Monday and the second stage on Tuesday, and after two days of fueling, the rocket is expected to launch between next Monday and Wednesday, Yonhap said.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing on Tuesday that Beijing has exchanged ideas with Pyongyang on several occasions.

"As a sovereign state, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is entitled to the peaceful use of outer space. But in view of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and restrictions of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, China hopes the DPRK can proceed from the overall situation of peace and stability on the peninsula and act prudently," Hong said.

Meanwhile, China has maintained contact with South Korea, the US, Russia and Japan, said Hong.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly urged North Korea on Tuesday to reconsider its decision. He also urged Pyongyang to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

According to Zhang Liangui, a specialist in Korean issues and professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, Pyongyang is not likely to abandon its plan, as nuclear weapons have been declared the revolutionary legacy of the late Kim Jong-il, the country's previous leader and father of the incumbent Kim Jong-un.

"Pyongyang has several motives. The new leadership wants to boost its prestige through a successful rocket test and hopes to gain more bargaining leverage on the international stage," Zhang said, adding that nuclear weapons are also indispensable for Pyongyang's self-proclaimed image as a powerful state armed with the juche ideology, which stresses reliance on Korean national resources and strong military independence.

Pyongyang announced its second satellite launch plan under current leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday, saying it will try to send a satellite into orbit using an Unha-3 rocket between December 10 and 22, a window period that coincides with the first anniversary of Kim Jong-Il's death and South Korea's presidential election.

Coordinates provided by Pyongyang showed the first stage will fall into the Yellow Sea, and the second stage drop-off will take place off the Philippines. The trajectory shows a similarity with that of Pyongyang's first Unha-3, which exploded shortly after take-off on April 13.

Countries including the US, Japan and South Korea have long accused Pyongyang of testing nuclear warhead delivery vehicles while claiming they are satellite launches.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the US urged NATO allies to press the government in Pyongyang to abandon its provocative plans.

Japan also sent its Patriot PAC-3 missile to Okinawa on Monday to shoot down any North Korean projectiles over its air space.

"The best result would be another failure. A successful launch would not bring the outcomes Pyongyang may be speculating about, but rather the likelihood of total fallout with the international community and even preemptive strikes against Pyongyang," Zhang said.


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