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(LEAD) U.S. says N. Korean satellite launch would violate U.N. resolutions

2015/09/15 04:31

(ATTN: UPDATES in paras 1-5 with State Department spokesman's remarks; CHANGES headline; ADDS byline)

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) --- The United States said Monday North Korea would be violating multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions if it forges ahead with its plans to launch a satellite using ballistic missile technology.

State Department spokesman John Kirby made the remark after the North's space agency strongly suggested that the country may launch a satellite aboard a long-range rocket around next month's 70th anniversary of the foundation of the ruling Workers' Party.

"There are multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that require North Korea to suspend all activity related to their ballistic missile program, and establish a moratorium on missile launches, stop conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology and abandon its ballistic missile program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner," Kirby said.

"So any satellite launch using ballistic missile technology is a clear violation" of U.N. resolutions, he said.

Speculation has persisted that the North could launch a long-range rocket to mark the anniversary after a recent upgrade enabled the launch site to handle bigger rockets. Monday's statement from the North's National Aerospace Development Administration was Pyongyang's first official acknowledgment of the possibility.

"The world will clearly see a series of satellites of (North) Korea soaring into the sky at the times and locations determined by the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea," the KCNA reported in an English statement, without elaborating.

The North also claimed it has the right to launch rockets for peaceful purposes.

Pyongyang has long been accused of using long-range rocket launches as a pretext for test-firing intercontinental ballistic missiles. Experts say long-range rockets and ICBMs are basically the same with differences only in payloads.

The North is believed to have honed advanced ballistic missile technologies through a series of test launches, including a 2012 launch that succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit. That test is considered the most successful so far.

The test also sparked fears that the North has moved closer to ultimately developing nuclear-tipped missiles that could potentially reach the United States mainland. The country has so far conducted three underground nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009 and 2013.