NAPSNet Daily Report 04 September, 1998

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 04 September, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, September 04, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-04-september-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. Japan

IV. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

I. United States

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1. Alleged DPRK Satellite Launch

Reuters (Brian Williams, “N. KOREA SAYS LAUNCHED FIRST SATELLITE, NOT MISSILE,” Tokyo, 09/04/98) and the Associated Press (“NORTH KOREA: IT WASN’T A MISSILE,” Seoul, 09/04/98) reported that the DPRK denied Friday that it had launched a ballistic missile, saying that Monday’s rocket firing was a success launch into orbit of the DPRK’s first artificial satellite. A statement by the DPRK Foreign Ministry said, “Some people … are making a fuss, ignorant of this valuable success of science and technology.” It added, “Particularly, the forces hostile towards the DPRK must be mindful that their attempt to lead the DPRK to a change will bring them nothing but destruction. Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said that he doubted the rocket carried a satellite, stating, “If it was launched, I guess Japan’s technology could have already picked it up.” In Washington, an anonymous State Department official said it was impossible to confirm the DPRK’s claim that the launch was a scientific satellite, but that it nonetheless showed that the DPRK had demonstrated the capability to deliver a payload 1,500 miles.

Reuters (“WASHINGTON STICKS TO KOREAN MISSILE STORY,” Washington, 09/04/98) reported that an unnamed US Defense Department official said Friday that the US doubted that the object launched by the DPRK Monday was a satellite rather than a ballistic missile. He stated, “We still maintain it was a Taepodong.” He added, “We monitor the (Korean) peninsula very closely.” The report noted that details of the launch provided in the DPRK statement were almost identical to US reports. [Ed. note: US experts have confirmed to Nautilus that the given coordinates are plausible for the launch of an artificial satellite.]

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2. Possibility of Second DPRK Missile Test

The New York Times (Steven Lee Myers, “NORTH KOREANS MAY BE PREPARING ANOTHER MISSILE TEST,” Washington, 09/04/98) reported that US and Japanese officials said Thursday that the DPRK may be preparing to test another missile. A US government official said that the US has detected a flurry of activity at the same military base along the DPRK’s northeastern coast used to launch a two-stage rocket on Monday. The official added, however, that it appeared that the DPRK was making preparations to test one or more of its older missiles. One unnamed US official said, “While there is activity around the launch site, it is not at all certain there is going to be any kind of test.” US officials also said Thursday that the DPRK had issued a maritime alert to ships passing through the Sea of Japan, indicating that there could be military activity in the area until September 20.

Reuters (“JAPAN COULD RESPOND TO MISSILES-DEFENCE HEAD QUOTED,” Tokyo, 09/04/98) and the Associated Press (“JAPAN DEFENSE HEAD: ATTACK ON N. KOREA BASES STILL AN OPTION,” Tokyo, 09/04/98) reported that Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga said on Friday that, under a self- defense policy adopted in 1956, Japan would have the right to strike back if attacked by missiles. Nukaga stated, “As one of many options, it’s still alive.” He added, however, that it is the duty of the government to address the DPRK missile test issue with diplomacy.

The Associated Press (“U.S. WARNS N. KOREA AGAINST FURTHER MISSILE TESTS – OFFICIAL,” Tokyo, 09/04/98) reported that an unnamed senior US defense official said Friday that the US considers the DPRK’s missile launch a serious threat to Japan’s security and has warned the DPRK against carrying out any further launches. He added that the US would work with Japan to formulate a response to the DPRK’s threat. He said that one measure would likely be an agreement by Japan to join the US in developing a ballistic missile defense system.

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3. ROK Policy toward DPRK

The Washington Times (Ben Barber, “JAPAN, S. KOREA, ON ALERT IN PACIFIC,” 09/03/98) reported that the ROK government has urged privately that patience might resolve the crisis over the DPRK rocket launch within two or three months. An unnamed diplomat in the ROK said that “Seoul sees Kim [Jong-il]’s installation as president a great opportunity to make an advance in its policy of engaging North Korea while making up for its mistakes when his father died four years ago.” He added, “The government is serious about its ‘Sunshine Policy’ of reconciliation and sees this time of celebration for North Korea as a very rare window through which it can reach out successfully to the North.”

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4. DPRK Missile Sales

The Washington Times (Ben Barber, “JAPAN, S. KOREA, ON ALERT IN PACIFIC,” 09/03/98) reported that Scott Snyder of the US Institute of Peace said in Tokyo that the new missile tested Monday is aimed at boosting sagging DPRK profits from missile exports. Snyder stated, “In some respects [missiles] are a sunset industry in North Korea. This is an effort to revive the sales.”

Reuters (“NKOREA DEMANDS MONEY TO END MISSILE EXPORTS-SEOUL,” Seoul, 09/04/98) reported that the ROK Unification Ministry said on Friday that the DPRK has demanded money from the US in return for ending its missile exports. A ministry spokesman said that National Unification Minister Kang In-duk told the National Assembly on Thursday that the DPRK made the demand during recent talks with the US in New York. Kang said that the DPRK earned about US$580 million from missile exports between 1987 and 1992.

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5. DPRK Missile Development

The Washington Times (Rowan Scarborough, “N. KOREA MISSILES CAN IMPROVE, EXPERTS WARN,” 09/04/98) reported that Henry Sokolski, Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, said that with help from an established power like Russia, the DPRK could test a longer-range Taepodong-2 missile within several years. Sokolski stated, “Once again, the assumption among optimists seems to be that North Korea will work totally by themselves. There are reasons to doubt that.” He added, “North Korea is in bed with Iran, which is in bed with the Russians. They may well have access to other countries’ contributions.” Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control argued, “I think it was a surprise they were able to do the staging in such a short time. The fact the Russians are helping Iran shamelessly indicates to me the Russians are available.” He added, “If you can do two stages you can do three stages and then you can hit things a long way. My impression is we were skeptical about their ability to do staging. They somehow have managed to overcome that hurdle, which is a big technical hurdle because the technology they imported and reversed engineered has all been one- stage technology.” However Robert Bell, a key adviser to US President Bill Clinton on defense and arms-control policies, argued, “One of the reasons that we are confident that we will have three years strategic warning of an intercontinental-range threat is that the degree of technical challenge going from an intermediate-range missile like the Taepodong-1 to an intercontinental-range missile like the Taepodong-2 is really quite profound. It’s not a simple scaling up in terms of the power of the missile. The technical challenge of going from a theater- range system to an intercontinental-range system is quite daunting and unique.”

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6. Remains of US Soldiers from Korean War

The Associated Press (J. H. Yun, “N. KOREA RETURNS REMAINS OF MIAS,” Panmunjom, 09/04/98) reported that the DPRK returned three sets of skeletal remains Friday believed to be those of US soldiers missing from the Korean War. The remains were flown to the US Army’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for forensic tests and identification.

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7. Kim Jong-il’s Ascension

The Associated Press (“NEW N. KOREAN PARLIAMENT TO MEET,” Seoul, 09/04/98) reported that the DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency said that deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday for a session that begins Saturday. The report said that the delegates, “are filled with firm determination to make a historic phase for the strengthening and development of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

The Associated Press (Paul Shin, “KIM JONG IL TO LEAD NORTH KOREA,” Seoul, 09/04/98) reported that analysts expect Kim Jong-il to be named President of the DPRK during a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly that begins Saturday. Park Young-rim, a political science professor at Korea University, stated, “For North Korea, it’ll be a long time coming but it will not bring any drastic change in the country’s Cold War foreign policy.” He added, however, that the DPRK under Kim Jong Il’s presidency might expand economic contact with the outside world, while at the same time carefully guarding against the possibility of any economic opening causing instability in the DPRK’s society. Yoon Duk-min, a researcher at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, a government think-tank, stated, “The recent firing of a long-range missile over Japan is a typical example of the North’s hard-line policy of resorting to brinkmanship.” He said that the missile launch appears to have had the dual purpose of solidifying internal unity and sending a message to the outside world that despite its economic difficulties, the DPRK’s military power remains formidable. He added, “Missiles are another bargaining chip North Korea is using to exact economic aid from neighboring countries. They are desperate, so they have nothing to be afraid of.”

II. Republic of Korea

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1. DPRK Missile Test

ROK and Japanese foreign ministers agreed Thursday to meet with their US counterpart on countermeasures to the DPRK missile threat, the ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said Thursday. The meeting will be held in New York, where the ministers are scheduled to attend a meeting of the UN General Assembly later this month, the ministry said. ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong Soon-young and his Japanese counterpart Masahiko Komura, agreed on the proposed tripartite talks when they met in Tokyo Thursday evening. The two foreign ministers, who had intended to focus on ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s state visit to Japan scheduled for next month, also took up the issue concerning the DPRK’s test. Concerning a report that the DPRK was preparing to test fire another ballistic missile within a few days, an ROK Defense Ministry official said that it might actually be a shorter-range Rodong missile. ROK Defense Minister Chun Yong-taek said Thursday that the ROK would closely consult with Japan and the US to tackle the missile threat. He said he had agreed with his Japanese counterpart Fukushiro Nakaga that top defense officials from the two countries should meet to discuss DPRK’s missile program. (Chosun Ilbo, “SOUTH KOREA, US, JAPAN TO DISCUSS NORTH KOREA MISSILE THREAT,” 09/04/98)

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2. Kim Jong-il’s Ascension

A newly-elected DPRK parliament, or the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), is expected to elect Kim Jong-il as state president when it opens its first session Saturday. When Kim, the eldest son of the late President Kim Il-sung, assumes the presidency, it will mark the first hereditary succession of power in a Communist country. The presidency, along with chairmanship of the party’s Central Military Committee, are the only two top posts left vacant. In addition to electing the state president with a five-year term, the SPA is also expected to elect a new prime minister and fill top military posts. DPRK Premier Kang Song-san is known to be suffering from a serious illness, and the defense minister’s post has been vacant since the death of Choe Gwang last year. Kim’s accession to the presidency is expected to come no later than the 50th anniversary of the DPRK government, which falls on September 9. DPRK Vice President Park Song-chol reportedly said during his trip to Thailand at the end of last month, “On the founding day, North Koreans will receive good news … Kim will assume the presidency.” A DPRK diplomat in Russia was quoted as saying Thursday that Kim will assume the leadership of the DPRK before the 50th anniversary. ROK officials and watchers monitoring DPRK news said that the DPRK appears to be making Kim’s assumption of the presidency a fait accompli. They said preparations for Kim’s inauguration have been in full swing since the DPRK announced the opening of the new SPA last month. DPRK news media recently reported that more than 30 committees have been set up in foreign countries to provide support for Kim’s presidency. The DPRK’s official Korean Central New Agency referred to Kim as head of state for the first time Tuesday. (Korea Herald, “KIM JONG-IL EXPECTED TO ASSUME PRESIDENCY TODAY AT ASSEMBLY,” 09/05/98)

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3. ROK Theater Missile Defense

The ROK is expected to hasten the development of a missile system that is capable of intercepting incoming missiles in the aftermath of the DPRK’s successful test launch of a medium range missile. According to ROK military sources Thursday, the ROK Defense Ministry has initiated a program to develop a middle range surface-to-air missile, code-named, “M- SAM,” this year. The ministry aims to enable the new missile to intercept small targets like missiles. “We are trying to enlist the technological help of Russia in the development of the M-SAM in such areas as electronic guidance,” a source said. The M-SAM program is aimed at developing a missile that has a striking range of 30 to 60 km, in order to replace the existing Hawk missiles that form the backbone of the ROK’s anti-aircraft system along with its Nikes, which have a range of 150 km. Following the Taepodong test firing, voices have begun to be heard which cite the urgent need for the ROK to defend itself against the increasing threat posed by DPRK ballistic missiles. Lawmakers demanded the beefing up of the nation’s anti-missile attack capabilities when the ROK National Assembly’s defense committee was called into session in the aftermath of the test launch. Current plans call for the investment of a total of ROK Won 200 to 300 billion in the development of the M-SAM by 2008. It is said that a ROK ministry official was recently sent to see what Russia could offer in terms of M-SAM related technology transfer. The ROK and Russia have established a technology transfer agreement in the military field. The S-300 will be a candidate, along with the US- made Patriots, for the ROK’s delayed SAM-X project, which is aimed at replacing the nation’s aging arsenal of Nike missiles, and shoring up its anti-missile defense capabilities. (Korea Times, “ROK TO DEVELOP MISSILE INTERCEPTOR,” 09/04/98)

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4. Financing for Light-Water Reactor Project

US and ROK officials, who initially expressed understanding about Japan’s reaction to the DPRK missile test, are concerned that Japan’s boycott of the 1994 nuclear deal could lead the DPRK to violate the Agreed Framework. An unnamed ROK Foreign Affairs-Trade Ministry official said, “We are concerned about how long Japan will maintain its hardline stance. It appears that Japan is wishing to keep its stance at least until late this month when foreign ministers from the ROK, Japan and the US are expected to meet in New York to discuss the missile issue. However, we are not sure we can sit idly by during the next several weeks waiting for Japan to shift its position.” US Embassy officials in Seoul, stressing Japan’s practicality in policymaking, also speculated that Japan would drop its hardline stance and return to its original position after its temporary show of protest. Putting Japan’s boycott aside, it is highly likely that the US will fail to meet its obligations regarding the nuclear deal. Now that Japan is infuriated over the missile test, the US administration has no option but to expect some help from its own Congress. Although the US Congress supports spending more on heavy oil, it is virtually impossible to meet the October 21 deadline. (Korea Times, “JAPAN’S NO TO KEDO MAY NOT LAST LONG,” 09/05/98)

III. Japan

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1. Japanese Reaction to DPRK Missile Test

The Daily Yomiuri (Kazuyuki Matsuura, “GOVERNMENT SEEKS CENSURE OF NORTH KOREA BY UNITED NATIONS,” New York, 09/04/98) reported that the Japanese government is planning to submit to the UN Security Council (UNSC) a draft resolution or statement denouncing the DPRK’s missile-launching on August 31, according to diplomatic sources. A draft resolution or proposed statement may be submitted before the General Assembly convenes next Wednesday. The report said that preparations for a draft document moved into full gear on Wednesday at the Japanese UN representative office in New York, when Hisashi Owada, Japanese ambassador to UN, returned from a visit to South Africa. The office will draft the document in close consultation with the Foreign Ministry and Security Council members. Masaki Konishi, deputy ambassador to the UN, telephoned his DPRK counterpart, Kim Chang-guk, to protest the missile launching shortly after news of it reached his office. The office has so far received no official response from the DPRK, according to the report. However, in response to the Yomiuri Shimbun’s question on September 2, a DPRK diplomatic source criticized Japan’s stance, saying, “Japan does not know whether a missile test has been conducted or not.” The source added that Japan has developed similar missile technology, apparently referring to Japan’s space program. “Japan is in no position to criticize our country,” the source said. The report added that, according to Japanese diplomatic sources, the government tried to contact the DPRK through the PRC, which usually serves as the diplomatic channel between the two countries, but has not received any response so far from the DPRK.

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2. Alleged Plans for Second DPRK Test

The Daily Yomiuri (“FISHING BOAT MONITORED,” 09-04-98) reported that the Japanese Defense Agency is closely following the movements of DPRK fishing boats operating around Aomori Prefecture that are suspected of being placed there to observe a second ballistic missile test, according to sources close to the agency. The sources said that early Thursday morning, a convoy of 10 DPRK fishing ships was spotted running between Cape Tappi in northern Honshu and Hokkaido, and that by 10 am, the vessels were seen sailing in the Pacific Ocean off the east coast. Another five DPRK fishing boats remained in the Sea of Japan about 100 kilometers west of Cape Tappi as of noon. The report added that observation ships are often sent to the area directly below the expected trajectory of a ballistic missile during a test.

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3. Japanese Satellite Development

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“PRIME MINISTER IS POSITIVE ABOUT INTRODUCING RECONNAISSANCE SATELLITE,” 09/04/98) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, at an upper house meeting on September 3, did not rule out Japan’s introduction of its own reconnaissance satellite in the wake of the recent DPRK missile launch over Japan. Obuchi stated, “I am gravely interested in it as a useful means of information-gathering, and I would like to study it.” In relation to this, Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga, regarding the 1969 lower house decision to restrict the development of space technology to peaceful purposes, emphasized the conventional view that the use by the Self-Defense Forces of civilian technologies does not contradict the decision. As for a theater missile defense (TMD) program, Obuchi said, “It is purely a means of defense with no offensive capability. It does not exceed a minimum defense capability.”

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4. Japanese-ROK Relations

The Daily Yomiuri (“MISSILE SPARKS JAPAN, ROK, US TALKS,” 09/04/98) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and his ROK counterpart Hong Soon-young agreed on September 3 in Tokyo to discuss ways to deal with the DPRK’s missile test-firing over Japan in the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting in New York slated for later this month. Komura, while noting the strategic importance of Japan’s contribution to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), said that the government could not sign a cost-sharing accord for the light-water reactor construction at the moment, in light of Japan’s public sentiment against the missile test. On the other hand, Hong reportedly said, “Considering the current atmosphere caused by the missile firing, there is no need for Japan to rush into signing the accord.” Hong also promised that the ROK would be ready to help Japan bring up the incident with the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. As for ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Japan in early October, Komura said that Japan will “look directly at the past” so that the two countries could join hands in contributing to Northeast Asia and the world in the 21st century. Hong, while noting the importance of historical issues, emphasized the need to create a new partnership as the next century approaches. Komura said that the government will work to narrow the two countries’ differences regarding the continued refusal by former “comfort women” in the ROK to accept compensation supported by the Asia Peace National Fund for Women, a private Japanese organization. Hong agreed to work toward the same goal. Both ministers also emphasized the need to reach agreement on a new fisheries treaty, which has been deadlocked, before Kim’s visit.

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5. Japanese-Russian Relations

The Daily Yomiuri (“KOMURA’S RUSSIA TRIP SET FOR SEPT. 13-16,” 09/04/98) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will make a four- day visit to Russia from September 13 for meetings with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, according to Foreign Ministry officials. The visit is expected to pave the way for Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s summit meeting with Yeltsin in November. Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who has been assigned as Obuchi’s chief foreign adviser, will also visit Russia on September 16 to meet with Yeltsin.

IV. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

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1. DPRK Denies Missile Test

The Korean Central News Agency (“SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH OF FIRST SATELLITE IN DPRK,” Pyongyang, 09/04/98) reported that the DPRK conducted its first successful launch of an artificial satellite on Monday. The report stated, “Our scientists and technicians have succeeded in launching the first artificial satellite aboard a multi-stage rocket into orbit. The rocket was launched in the direction of 86 degrees at a launching station in Musudan-ri, Hwadae county, North Hamgyong Province at 12:07 August 31, Juche 87 (1998) and correctly put the satellite into orbit at 12 hours 11 minutes 53 seconds in four minutes 53 seconds. The rocket is of three stages. The first stage was separated from the rocket 95 seconds after the launch and fell on the open waters of the East Sea of Korea 253 km off the launching station, that is 40 degrees 51 minutes north latitude 139 degrees 40 minutes east longitude. The second stage opened the capsule in 144 seconds, separated itself from the rocket in 266 seconds and fell on the open waters of the Pacific 1,646 km off from the launching station, that is 40 degrees 13 minutes north latitude 149 degrees 07 minutes east longitude. The third stage put the satellite into orbit 27 seconds after the separation of the second stage. The satellite is running along the oval orbit 218.82 km in the nearest distance from the earth and 6,978.2 km in the farthest distance. Its period is 165 minutes 6 seconds. The satellite is equipped with necessary sounding instruments. It will contribute to promoting scientific research for peaceful use of outer space. It is also instrumental in confirming the calculation basis for the launch of practical satellites in the future. The satellite is now transmitting the melody of the immortal revolutionary hymns ‘Song of General Kim Il Sung’ and ‘Song of General Kim Jong Il’ and the Morse signals ‘Juche Korea’ in 27 MHz. The rocket and satellite which our scientists and technicians correctly put into orbit at one launch are a fruition of our wisdom and technology 100 percent. The successful launch of the first artificial satellite in the DPRK greatly encourages the Korean people in the efforts to build a powerful socialist state under the wise leadership of General Secretary Kim Jong Il.”

The Korea Central News Agency (“FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN ON SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH OF ARTIFICIAL SATELLITE,” Pyongyang, 09/04/98) reported that a spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday regarding the DPRK’s reported launch of an artificial satellite. The spokesman said, “The satellite launch is one more fruit of the independent national economy, a product of 100 percent local technology and local effort. This gives pride and delight to the Korean nation and their friends. Some people around the DPRK, however, are making a fuss, ignorant of this valuable success of science and technology which will add to the common treasurehouse of humanity. They suspected it to be a ballistic missile launching test, expressed some ‘apprehensions’ and described it as a ‘serious event.’… Some people in the United States talk as if the ballistic missile launched by the DPRK had made it difficult for them to fulfill their obligation under the DPRK-U.S. framework agreement. They try to link this matter with food assistance, which they have described as a purely humanitarian issue. What is more intolerable is Japan’s behavior. Although they have no information on what happened, the Japanese authorities, blindly accepting rumors about the ballistic missile launching test in the DPRK, are threatening that they will bring this issue to the United Nations Security Council and that they will take ‘countermeasures.’ Before announcing that they would ‘put off’ negotiations for normalization of diplomatic relations, Japan must not forget that it is our right, not any bargaining thing, to demand apologies and compensation for its past crimes, and that we are willing to exercise our right. It is an internationally recognized right of a sovereign state to peacefully use space. It is also a strong trend of modern science and technology to develop, launch and use an artificial satellite in line with this. We have never criticized the United States and Japan for having launched artificial satellites. We are well aware that these satellites have been used for espionage on our country. For our country to have an artificial satellite, therefore, is an only too- natural exercise of sovereignty–whether this capacity will be used for a military purpose or not, entirely depends on the attitude of forces hostile towards us. The United States must ponder over its military pressure upon and preemptive attack on the DPRK. Japan must be aware that an attempt to enact a law for involvement in belligerent relations between the DPRK and the U.S. is tantamount to a declaration of war against the DPRK. The artificial satellite recently launched just before the historic first session of the 10th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK manifests the iron will and indomitable spirit of our party, army and people who are working hard for the greater prosperity of the country, pulling through difficulties. Those two countries must be aware of this. Particularly, the forces hostile towards the DPRK must be mindful that their attempt to lead the DPRK to a change will bring them nothing but destruction.”

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