North Korea Plans Satellite Launch

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a ceremony to award party and state commendations to nuclear scientists, technicians, soldier-builders, workers and officials for their contribution to what North Korea said was a succesful hydrogen bomb test, at the meeting hall of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 13, 2016.     REUTERS/KCNA

Will the United Nations ever get tough with sanctions?

SEOUL/WASHINGTON | RUETERS |BY JU-MIN PARK AND DAVID BRUNNSTROM:   North Korea told U.N. agencies on Tuesday it plans to launch a satellite as early as next week, a move that could advance the country’s long-range missile technology after its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.

News of the planned launch between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25 drew fresh U.S. calls for tougher U.N. sanctions already under discussion in response to North Korea’s nuclear test. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the United Nations needed to “send the North Koreans a swift, firm message.”

Pyongyang has said it has a sovereign right to pursue a space program by launching rockets, although the United States and other governments worry that such launches are missile tests in disguise.

“We have received information from DPRK regarding the launch of earth observation satellite ‘Kwangmyongsong’ between 8-25 February,” a spokeswoman for the International Maritime Organization, a U.N. agency, told Reuters by email.

The International Telecommunication Union, another U.N. agency, told Reuters North Korea had informed it on Tuesday of plans to launch a satellite with a functional duration of four years, in a non-geostationary orbit.

The White House said on Tuesday that any satellite launch by North Korea would be viewed as “another destabilizing provocation.” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel, the senior U.S. diplomat for East Asia, told reporters it “argues even more strongly” for tougher U.N. sanctions.

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