In Washington, the U.S. State Department repeated its opposition to any launch.
“We condemn what we consider to be a highly provocative action that would threaten peace and stability in the region,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
ELECTION IN SOUTH
North Korea says its rockets are used to put satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes. Russia said in its statement North Korea would be allowed to exercise its right to peaceful activity in space only if the U.N.-imposed restrictions were lifted.
The State Department’s Toner scoffed at suggestions that Pyongyang was genuinely interested in space exploration.
“We are under no illusions that they’re somehow pursuing a space program; it’s pretty clear what they’re trying to do here,” he told a news briefing.
The warnings come just weeks before South Korea’s Dec. 19 presidential election in which how to handle North Korea is a major campaign issue. The isolated North has for years tried to influence major events in the South by issuing propaganda or launching armed attacks.
North and South Korea have been technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and regional powers have for years been trying to rein in the North’s nuclear programme. North Korea carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Countries trying to stop North Korea’s arms programme believe it is using rocket launches to perfect technology to build a missile arsenal capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.