International experts invited to North Korea to observe its planned Unha-3 rocket launch will get to see not just the launch but also the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite installed in the rocket, state media said on Thursday.
There has been much doubt expressed in the international community about whether the launch, planned to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, is anything more than a cover for a long-range missile test.
The country’s media has to-date failed to provide a photograph of the planned satellite. Even if they did it couldn’t be verified.
Should foreign experts and reporters get a close-up look at the claimed satellite, it could go some way towards determining if the launch is intended to put a satellite into orbit.
While North Korea is keen to improve its missile technology, it shouldn’t be forgotten that a successful launch of a bonafide satellite would be a big technological step for the country.
Only nine other countries have ever managed to put a satellite into orbit. North Korea has claimed twice in the past to have launched satellites, but the launches were never confirmed and the claimed satellites were never detected by governmental or amateur space watchers.
North Korea’s missile program would benefit anyway from a satellite launch as the rocket technology is so similar, so it might not temper international pressure on the country to halt the launch.
Here’s what Voice of Korea said this morning and, quoted below, the relevant excerpt from the radio broadcast:[audio:http://www.northkoreatech.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/120329-vok-satlaunch.mp3|titles=120329-vok-satlaunch]
Invited foreign experts and reporters will go to the Sohae Satellite Launching Site and see the carrier rocket Unha-3 and the artificial earth satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 installed on the launching pad with their own eyes and observe the preparation for the launch of the carrier rocket and satellite at the General Launch Commanding Post.
The guests will also visit the General Satellite Controlling and Commanding Centre in Pyongyang and at the proper place they will witness the launching of the satellite.
Special visits will be organized beyond international usage to show transparently the peaceful, scientific and technological character of Kwangmyongsong-3. — Voice of Korea in English, March 29, 2012.