August 1, 2006

North Korea slams South for spy satellite launch

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Tuesday South Korea's
launch of a scientific satellite that can also spy on the
secretive country was a provocative act that compels it to
build up its "invincible war deterrent."

South Korea sent a satellite into orbit on Friday primarily
for making geographical surveys but also possibly for tracking
military movements in North Korea, which raised regional
security concerns by launching missiles on July 5.

"We sound an alarm-bell to South Korea straining the
situation on the Korean peninsula," the North's KCNA news
agency quoted a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful
Reunification of the Fatherland as saying.

"The prevailing situation compels the North to step up its
moves to bolster the invincible war deterrent for self-defense
in every way under the banner of Songun," the spokesman said
referring to Pyongyang's military-first policy.

South Korea's 900-kg (2,000 lb) Arirang-2 satellite,
launched in Russia, can take high-resolution pictures of the
earth's surface, a government agency said. Experts said it
would be the country's most advanced surveillance satellite.

The Arirang-2 gives South Korea the ability to identify
objects on the ground one meter in diameter, South Korea's
Overseas Information Service said.

However, its capabilities pale in comparison to the array
of spy satellites and surveillance planes the United States
uses to keep an eye on North Korea.

U.S. aerial reconnaissance spotted North Korea preparing a
launch of its long-range Taepodong-2 missile. This led to
international warnings to Pyongyang not to go ahead with the
launch, with Seoul, Washington and others saying it would pose
a grave danger to regional security.

North Korea defied the warnings and launched the
Taepodong-2 along with six other missiles. The long-range
missile, which experts said could eventually reach parts of the
United States, blew up soon after launch.

South Korean military officials said the two Koreas
exchanged gunfire on Monday night along the fortified border
that divides them. No South Korean soldiers were injured in the
first live-fire incident between the two in almost a year.