News


US Unable To Discount DPRK Satellite Claim 
By Paul Flatin
Tokyo Kyodo 05 Sep 98


Washington, Sept.  4 Kyodo -- the United States cannot discount north
Korea's claim that it launched a satellite Monday until it finishes
reviewing its intelligence data, a defense department official said Friday.
"The United States space command is in the process of evaluating north
Korean assertions of having placed a satellite into orbit," the official
said.
"We are continuing to analyze the data as it is received.  At this
point, we cannot verify north Korean claims nor can we disprove them," he
said.
Pyongyang has said that Monday's launch of a multistage rocket was not
a ballistic missile test but a successful launch of north Korea's first
satellite.
A State Department official told Kyodo news that the u.S.  Will
continue to view the test launch as a destabilizing factor in northeast
Asia and beyond because a multistage rocket can serve as either a satellite
launcher or a ballistic missile.
"As recognized by the munitions technology control regime, any rocket
capable of putting up a satellite, is also inherently capable of delivering
weapons of mass destruction to many countries," the official said.
The official noted that many countries, including the u.S., Russia and
China, use the same rocket boosters to deliver both weapon and satellites
payloads.
"So, no matter what, this launch confirms am increase in (north
Korea's) capability to threaten its neighbors," the official said.
The pentagon's u.S.  Space command operates an extensive network of
sophisticated spy satellites to monitor the globe for early warning of any
missile attack on the u.S.  Or its allies. They detected and tracked
Monday's launch of a north Korean multistage rocket.  Navy ships and air
force planes equipped with advanced intelligence-gathering cameras, radars
and other sensors were also deployed to the region to observe the launch.
Defense analysts in the u.S.  Say it is extremely unlikely the u.S. 
Could have overlooked a satellite launch because the test was so closely
monitored by so many intelligence assets.
However, john pike, director of the space policy project at the
American federation of scientists, says it is also not impossible for the
u.S.  Space tracking network to make a mistake.
He explained that the final stage of the rocket, that presumably
lifted P'yongyang's satellite into orbit, may have been too small for u.S. 
Radars to detect clearly.
Pike also said the orbit north Korea claims to have put their
satellite into is full of thousands of pieces of space junk, making it
time-consuming, but not impossible for the space command to identify what,
if it exists, is likely to be a satellite no larger than a small melon.
"For all the money we sink into (u.S.  Space command) you figure they
have a perfect knowledge... [ellipsis as received] they clearly do not, and
I think that's one reason why we haven't been able to get an official
answer out of them," pike said.