February 7, 2016

North Korea Launches "Satellite" - Japan Also Has Dual-Use Missile

This is where the February 6 - 7, 2016 "satellite" launch took place. Sohae Launch Center also known as (Tongchang-ri or Tongch'ang-dong or Pongdong-ri Launch Center) is a rocket launching site in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea. The base is located among hills close to the northern border with China.

Airbus Defense & Space and 38 North provided this satellite image (above) of the Sohae Launch Center on February 4, 2016. This is where the February 6 - 7, 2016 "satellite rocket" launch took place. 

An excellent commentary on the February 6 - 7, 2016 launch and North Korea's dual-use space rocket-ICBM program.

Reuters reports, February 6 - 7, 2016. Parts of the report are:

North Korea launches rocket it says carrying satellite

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday carrying what it has said is a satellite, South Korea's defense ministry said, in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

...The rocket was launched at around 9:30am Seoul time (7.30 p.m. ET) in a southward trajectory. Japan's Fuji Television Network showed a streak of light heading into the sky, taken from a camera at China's border with North Korea.

…North Korea, barred under U.N. sanctions from using ballistic missile technology, had notified U.N. agencies that it planned to launch a rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite, triggering opposition from governments that see it as a long-range missile test.

…Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch "absolutely unacceptable", especially after North Korea had tested a nuclear device last month.

"To launch a missile after conducting a nuclear test goes against the U.N. resolution. We will respond resolutely, coordinating closely with the international community," he told reporters.

Japan had said that it was ready to shoot down the rocket if it threatened the country, but did not take any action to do so, Japan's NHK reported.

North Korea has said that its most recent nuclear test, its fourth, was a hydrogen bomb. However, the United States and other governments have expressed doubt over that claim."

The Washington Post later reported:

“Both the South Korean defense ministry and thePentagon said that the rocket, launched at 9 a.m. North Korean time from a launch pad near the Chinese border, appeared to have successfully reached space.

…But North Korea gloated about its most recent advance into space. It said it that it had fired a Kwangmyongsong-4 (the name translates as “lode star”), a newer-model satellite than the one launched three years ago and one that it said was equipped with devices for Earth measurement and communication.

…The rocket went missing [assumed that first stage plunged into water] from South Korean military radar in the sea near Jeju Island at 9:36 a.m., said defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun, but the Japanese government said that it passed over the southern islands of Okinawa at about 9:41 a.m. There were no reports of any debris falling on land….”


The credibility of this event as a peaceful "satellite" launch depends on whether a viable, working satellite was launched. If a satellite burns up in the atmosphere after a few minutes, hours or days it is not a genuine satellite. The test can then be easily described as a missile/rocket booster test - generally for future placement of nuclear warheads on top - warheads that follow a ballistic path.

[Subsequent reports of February 10, 2016 indicate the satellite is not viable “the satellite was tumbling and essentially useless - just as happened with the Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 Unit 2 satellite in December of 2012.”

In any case a missile or rocket booster is a dual-use means of launching satellites or warheads. Much of the launch and guidance computer hardware and software is also dual use.

Note that Japan also has a dual-use Epsilon rocket/missile program. Japan also stresses that Epsilon is a peaceful satellite booster.


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