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North Korea cites space race as excuse to launch rockets

Staff Writer |
Citing peaceful purposes, North Korea defended its right to launch space rockets.

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This comes a day after blasting the United States for orchestrating new sanctions described by Pyongyang as an "act of war."

The UN Security Council's latest punitive measures against the North were unveiled last Friday, including tightening the reclusive state's oil supply and overseas sources of revenue.

The resolution was a direct response to North Korea's most recent ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) test in late November, which Pyongyang celebrated as the completion of its nuclear force capable of striking anywhere in the U.S.

While the North's Foreign Ministry was defiant Sunday when warning the U.S. must abandon hostile actions if it "wishes to live safely," Pyongyang's state-run media has since opened the way for further long-range rocket launches under the more peaceful description of sending up satellites.

Critics say North Korea's past satellite launches were a guise for ballistic missile development, but Workers' Party newspaper the Rodong Sinmun insisted Monday such a space program is "a legitimate exercise of the right that thoroughly fits the UN Charter".

"Our country is also in step with the trends of space development,” worldwide, the party mouthpiece added.

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