Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

U.S. considers launch pact for North Korean satellites

Posted: July 30, 2000

The Clinton administration will review a North Korean government proposal to drop development of its satellite launcher and intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system in return for western assistance in launching satellites into Earth orbit, administration sources said Monday. The North Korean proposal was made to President Clinton by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin over the week-end at the G-8 World Economic Summit in Okinawa Japan.

The Clinton administration was unprepared by the request and caught offguard by the proposals. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told journalists North Korea was seeking the ability to launch one to two satellites per year and would not require the launchings to take place inside North Korea. "This (the launchings) might be assistance by certain states, or a pool. other words, there are choices in solving this question," the Interfax News Agency quoted him as saying in Moscow.

The exact type of launching services or capabilities would be the subject of discussions and, ultimately, negotiations with the North Korean government. Two years ago North Korea launched a multi-stage rocket into space which passed briefly over parts of the Japanese island during its ascent. Although North Korean officials claimed the rocket had orbited a satellite, western observers could find no trace of a spacecraft and the launching was believed to either have failed to orbit or was a test flight of a ballistic missile configuration.

Clinton departed the summit last Saturday after releasing a joint statement with Putin saying that the proposal needed additional study "and should be investigated further."

Launch community sources speculated that an agreement could be fashioned with the country that would set quotas for launches of satellites by U.S. or Russian launch vehicles from foreign launching sites with monitoring of North Korean space technology and missile development as part of the deal.

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