NK says it will continue to launch satellites under space program
North Korea said it will continue to launch satellites for its economic development, a week after its long-range rocket exploded soon after lift-off.
North Korean "satellites for peaceful purposes will be put into space one after another," the North's Korean Committee for Space Technology said in an English-language statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency late Thursday.
The statement did not give any specific time frame for the next rocket launch.
The defiant move came days after the U.N. Security Council condemned the botched launch and called on member states to find ways to tighten sanctions on the communist country.
The North has claimed the failed rocket launch was intended to put an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, South Korea, the United States and other regional powers said it was a cover for testing the North's ballistic missile technology, which is banned under a U.N. resolution.
The committee said the North's scientists and technicians found the cause of the rocket failure last Friday, noting scientific and technological data gained in the failure will help advance the country's space program. It did not, however, elaborate on the cause of the failure.
The committee also accused the U.S. of seeking to strip North Korea of its right to space development with food aid, saying the move is "nothing but a foolish dream."
"Our army and people have lived without any U.S. 'support,'" the committee said. "We have all substantial foundations for enabling our people to fully enjoy wealth and prosperity under socialism, without tightening their belts any longer."
The failed rocket launch has unraveled a February deal between North Korea and the U.S. that called for a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid from Washington.
In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed concern that North Korea might have mastered a mobile ability for long-range missiles.
"There is growing concern about, you know, the mobile capabilities that were on display on the parade activity in North Korea," he said Thursday at a congressional hearing.
The North showed off what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile on a transporter-erector-launcher during a military parade on Sunday. (Yonhap)