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April 23, 2017

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North Korea's Kim Jong Un vows to launch more satellites

SEOUL--North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to launch more "satellites" in order to become a space power, state media said Sunday, despite global condemnation on past launches, dubbed disguised ballistic missile tests.

Kim, during a visit to the North's newly built satellite command center, urged scientists to work harder to "further glorify the (North) as a space power," state-run KCNA said.

"The status of the (North) as a satellite producer-launcher remains unchanged though the hostile forces deny it and its space development can never be abandoned, no matter who may oppose," Kim was quoted as saying.

The new, 13,770-square-meter command center will provide a "solid springboard for continued launch of various working satellites," the KCNA said.

More satellites will be launched into outer space at the time and locations set by the ruling Workers' Party, Kim said, adding that such projects are "legitimate rights" of the country.

The impoverished but nuclear-armed North in December 2012 launched a satellite into orbit, describing it as a purely peaceful scientific project.

But the U.N. condemned the move as a disguised ballistic missile test, banned under the U.N. resolutions triggered by its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

Pyongyang, angered by fresh U.N. sanctions following the launch, conducted its third nuclear test — its most powerful to date — in February 2013.

The 2012 satellite launch was seen as a major step forward for the North's nuclear weapons program, as long-range missile delivery capability had long been cited as its main weakness.

There is little doubt that the North has an active ballistic missile development program, but expert opinion is split on just how much progress it has made.

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