World Bulletin / News Desk
North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite, a Seoul newspaper said Tuesday, as outside observers warn that the nuclear-armed regime's space programme is a fig leaf for weapons tests.
"Through various channels, we've recently learned that the North has completed a new satellite and named it Kwangmyongsong-5", the Joongang Ilbo daily reported, quoting a South Korean government source.
"Their plan is to put a satellite equipped with cameras and telecommunication devices into orbit", he said.
Pyongyang launched their Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite in February 2016, which most in the international community viewed as a disguised ballistic missile test.
A spokesman for the South Korean military joint chiefs of staff said there was "nothing out of ordinary at this moment" but added that Seoul was watching out for any provocative acts "including the test of a long-range missile disguised as a satellite launch".
The report came as the North's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reasserted the regime's right to launch satellites and develop its space technology.
In a commentary published on Monday and titled "peaceful space programmes are sovereign countries' legitimate rights", the daily said Pyongyang's satellite launches "absolutely correspond" with international laws concerning space development.
At a UN General Assembly committee meeting in October, North Korea's deputy UN ambassador Kim In-Ryong said his country has a 2016-2020 plan to develop "practical satellites that can contribute to the economic development and improvement of the people’s living".
He stressed North Korea's right to produce and launch satellites "will not be changed just because the US denies it".
North Korea is believed to have successfully put a satellite into orbit in December 2012 after years of failures dating back to 1998 when it launched a pilot satellite and named it Kwangmyongsong-1.
Earlier this month, the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaia Gazeta quoted a Russian military expert, Vladimir Khrustalev, as saying that North Korea was expected to launch two satellites -- an Earth exploration satellite and a communications satellite -- in the near future.
Khrustalev made the remark after returning from his week-long trip to North Korea in mid-November when he met with representatives of the country's National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA), the Russian daily said.
Tensions have soared as the isolated regime has staged a series of atomic and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests -- most recently on November 29.
Last week, Israeli authorities refused a request to release Attallah from prison
The move came as Israel extended detention of 16-year-old girl Ahed al-Tamimi
‘We do not have people operating in Afrin, so that does not have a direct effect on what we are doing’, spokesman says
Arguments in case expected in April, final ruling expected by June
Sergey Lavrov, Ayman Safadi meet in New York, according to Russian Foreign Ministry statement
Police confirm detention of Turks without providing reason for move
Congress fails to reach agreement on short-term stopgap funding
Xi's eponymous "thought" was already enshrined in the Communist Party constitution at the 19th Party Congress in October, elevating him to the same status as modern China's founder Mao Zedong.
Separate roadside bombings in both provinces left three civilians dead, say security sources
Mexico rejects claim, calling it 'manifestly false'
Supporters not deterred by president’s antics, performance
Republican leadership eyes Thursday vote on stopgap bill, but passage is uncertain without Democratic support
The head of the Venezuelan Supreme Court and the chief of the intelligence agency are also blacklisted, diplomatic sources said, making them subject to asset freezes and travel bans.
Army frequently carries out sweeping arrest campaigns in occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem
Icy roads contribute to at least 4 fatalities, fifth death attributed to exposure