by our Asia correspondent
DEMOCRATIC Korea entered the space race with the successful launch of a weather satellite this week. “The satellite has entered the planned orbit,” a Korean Central Television news reader declared in a broadcast that played national songs with the lyrics “Korea does what it says” with shots of the launch pad at the Sohae Space Centre on the west coast of the DPR Korea.
The United States has grudgingly acknowledged that Democratic Korea now has a working satellite in space but only to lead the pack in denouncing the DPRK for daring to challenge the big power monopoly on space technology.
US imperialism maintains and upgrades satellite systems around the world for espionage and military monitoring purposes. But the north Korean polar-orbiting earth observation satellite that so enrages them is entirely for peaceful scientific and technological purposes.
The Unha-3 (Galaxy) rocket blasted off the launch pad in the bitter cold shortly before 10 am on Wednesday and successfully put a Kwangmyongsong 3 (Bright Star) satellite into orbit soon after.
Two previous rocket tests in 2006 and 2009 had been successful. But an attempt to put a research satellite into orbit last April failed when the rocket broke up two minutes after lift-off.
The legion of bourgeois media pundits all claimed this was a major technological or engineering failure that would take the north Koreans a year or more to resolve.
So this launch, long planned to coincide with the start of commemorations to mark the first anniversary of the passing of dear leader Kim Jong Il, clearly took the imperialists by surprise.
When the Korean Committee of Space Technology delayed the launch for a few days they all crowed about another failure. Now they’re bleating at the United Nations about alleged breaches of Security Council resolutions.
The United States and Japan, itself not much more than a puppet of US imperialism, have called on the UN Security Council to denounced the DPRK for using ballistic technology, even though this is the only possible way to put a satellite into orbit. This nonsense has also been dutifully echoed by Britain and the rest of the European Union.
Russia and China, who had previously urged Democratic Korea to abandon the launch, have also expressed their regrets.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry official said: “The DPRK is entitled to the peaceful use of outer space, but that right is currently restrained by relevant UN Security Council resolutions”, adding that the DPRK, as a member of the United Nations, is obliged to observe the Security Council resolutions.
When asked “What action the Security Council should take?” the official said the Chinese side holds that the Security Council’s response should be “prudent and moderate” and conducive to maintaining the overall peace and stability of the peninsula instead of escalating tensions there. But Democratic Korea is determined to continue the peaceful development of space technology. “ No matter what others say, we will continue to exercise our legitimate right to launch satellites,” a DPRK Foreign Office official declared.
“The right to use outer space for peaceful purposes is universally recognised by international law and it reflects the unanimous will of the international community. So this issue is not one over which the UN Security Council can say this or that,” he added.
He called on the international community to “use reason and remain cool so as to prevent the situation from developing [in an] undesirable direction.”
The north Korean official further insisted that the launch had been “part of peaceful work in line with the country’s scientific and technological development plan for the economic construction and improvement of people’s living standard.”
The Americans had overreacted to the previous rocket launch in April out of hostile feelings. This had forced the DPRK to re-examine the nuclear issue as a whole, he said adding:
“The concept of hostility will not be of any help, and confrontation will not help settle anything either”.