North Korea says it wants to peacefully use space. Analysts say the regime wants to test a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the US.
The North’s determination to go ahead with the launch around the time of the April 15 centennial of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-sung most likely sets the course for another cycle of international recriminations while the North refuses to talk seriously about giving up its nuclear program.
North Korea defended its defiance of demands by the US and others to cancel the launch as exercise of its “right to use space for peaceful purposes.” As explained by Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency, “The satellite launch for scientific researches….can by no means be a monopoly of specified countries.”
Officials and analysts alike, however, strongly doubt if the North’s goal is to launch a satellite. The obvious purpose, they say, is for North Korea to test the latest version of a missile with a range that could deliver a small nuclear warhead as far as Hawaii, Alaska – or even the US west coast.