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[EXCERPTS] DoD News Briefing


Tuesday, September 8, 1998 - 2:10 p.m.
Presenter: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. Welcome to the Pentagon.

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Q: Ken, does the United States or the Pentagon have any evidence to support or refute North Korea's claim that what the United States and Japan said was a Taepo-Dong missile launch on the 31st, I believe, was in fact a satellite launch. And there are reports by the Tass News Agency that North Korea may be ready to launch another missile tomorrow.

A: On the first question, we are not able to confirm the North Korean assertion that it launched a satellite on August 31st. US SPACECOM, the Space Command, is in the process now of looking at a wide array of evidence that we have collected about this and will take some time to complete the analysis. But right now SPACECOM has not observed any object orbiting the earth that correlates with the orbit announced by the North Koreans in their public statements.

Second, SPACECOM has not observed any new object orbiting the earth in an orbital path that could correlate with North Korean claims.

Third, to the best of our knowledge, no U.S. radio receiver has been able to depict radio transmissions at 27 MHz. That's the frequency range in which North Korea said this satellite was broadcasting.

Having said all of that, I want to stress again that we're still looking at the facts. We're still analyzing the information that has been collected about this, and that will continue for some time.

Q: Is it possible that there could be an item there in orbit but it's too small to detect? How small can you go?

A: Much smaller... The Space Command can detect items much smaller than this satellite would be. So I don't think that's the issue.

The first issue here is that no matter what the purpose of the August 31st launch was, whether it was to launch a satellite or to do something else, it did demonstrate that the North Koreans have an ability to delivery payloads over a longer range with the new Taepo-Dong I missile, and that, of course, is worrisome. The North Koreans have said they were doing this to launch a satellite. So far we cannot confirm that they have successfully launched a satellite.

Q: Do you have any indication, defense officials said previously that you had indications that North Korea was going to launch a missile and therefore you were monitoring closely. Are there any indications that North Korea might be preparing to launch another missile or a satellite or whatever? And are you ready to monitor that?

A: You can be sure that we'll be ready to monitor any launches that we suspect are about to take place. We were ready to monitor this last launch. That's one of the reasons we were able to collect some information on it. As I say, it takes awhile to correlate and analyze all that information, and that's what the Space Command is doing now.

Q: Then you suspect that another is about to take place. Are there indications...

A: I don't want to comment on that at this stage.

Q: Is there any indication that there may have been a third stage from this rocket?

A: I think we should let the Space Command and the intelligence authorities complete their review on this before we get too deeply into the details. They still are doing that, and I think it would be premature to make firm statements about the exact equipment that was used and the exact purpose of the launch or the degree of success that they've realized in their launch at this stage.

Q: Can you talk about any efforts that might be underway to try and retrieve the missile that was fired?

A: I'm not aware that there are. That doesn't mean there aren't. I'm just not aware of any specific efforts.

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Press: Thank you.