Is It A Missile Or A Satellite?

North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday, 7th February 2016 and claimed it had successfully put in orbit an ‘earth observation satellite’. This is the most recent development after Pyongyang’s announcement of a successful test of H-bomb which even shook the neighboring countries 6th January this year.

Despite of the claims made by the communist state that the launch was for ‘peaceful purposes’; the United States, South Korea and Japan have condemned the launch and alleged that the North actually intends to test Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). A rocket of nearly identical design was launched by North Korea in 2012, also claimed as of peaceful purposes. However, the United States alleges that no signals have ever been caught by that rocket, strengthening the doubts that it had military intentions. Moreover, defense ministry of South Korea is of the view that North Korea has a three-stage rocket called Kwangmyongsong which has the capability to strike the target up to 12,000 km, including American mainland. The rocket launched in 2012 was similar to this one.

North Korea is an isolated communist state, fiercely opposed to the southern country of Korean peninsula, which is an ally of USA. South Korea, which is a capitalist country, depends largely on US and the West for its military hardware and there is a considerable presence of US troops in South Korea. Pyongyang, the North’s capital has the political and military backing of Beijing and the two countries are divided only by a river. However, China was also one of the countries to condemn the fourth and the latest nuclear test by North Korea, a rare move by Beijing regarding its ally.

Since 2006 North Korea is under sanctions imposed by United Nations Security Council for conducting missile and nuclear bomb tests. The member countries of UNO are banned to have arms trade with North Korea. However, it still manages to exports ballistic missile technology to Middle East and some of the African countries. It is also to be noted that since Kim Jong Un, the young leader rose to power in North Korea after his father’s death in 2011, the world has witnessed rapid military development on the part of the communist state.

The weekend launch of a rocket by North Korea has angered not only its regional foes but also the world powers. Vice Admiral, directorate of US Missile Defence Agency James Syring was quoted as talking to the reporters that North Korea’s launch was “provocative, disturbing and alarming,” but could not be equated with intercontinental Ballistic missile. US President Barack Obama will address North Korea’s “provocations” when he hosts the leaders of Southeast Asian Nations in California next week. President Obama has also reassured US’ support to South Korea and Japan after North Korea conducted a rocket launch on this weekend.

Despite the claims made by North Korea’s ruling class that the rocket is of peaceful nature, the entire scenario is still shrouded in mystery whether it is a missile or really a satellite.