Spacelift Washington: U.S. Will Discuss Space Launch Pact in North Korea Visit

By frank_sietzen
October 11, 2000
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Spacelift Washington

Spacelift Washingon Archive

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 – U.S. State Secretary Madeleine K. Albright will journey to North Korea
late this year, the State Dept. confirmed late Wednesday following wire
service reports. The visit will consist of direct discussions with
President Kim Jong Il that may include offers of space launch assistance
for North Korean satellites in return for permanent suspension of that
country’s ballistic missile program, sources tell Spacelift Washington.

North Korean’s Vice Chairman of its National Defense Commission, Jo Myong
Rok, completed a state visit to Washington Tuesday in which discussions
concerning the North Korean missile program were held at the U.S. State and
Defense Departments. Rok, believed to be second only to President Kim, gave
vague responses to Clinton administration requests that the Korean missile
effort be curtailed.

North Korea was said to be seeking space launch assistance last summer
during discussions with the Russian ambassador. But no progress has been
made since, and some North Korean officials have downplayed any possibility
that missile sales or development could ever be bargained away in exchange
for western launch services.

North Korea allegedly has told intermediaries that it would require the
launch of two satellites per year on scientific and commercial research
missions and that its ballistic missile program is helping to develop a
four-stage launch vehicle. An alleged test flight of the rocket in 1998
failed to deliver a payload to orbit and is believed to have been a test of
a missile configuration and not a launcher. North Korea has denied this.
Albright is expected to bring up the launch pact and other cash incentives
to stop the North Korean missile program during her visit, details of which
were still being worked out Thursday.

Some space industry sources expressed skepticism that a launch service
structure for North Korean satellites could be worked out any time soon.
“If you think a China launch was tough (to gain export approval) can you
imagine working out a North Korean settlement?,” one source said Wednesday

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Have information about space transportation? Email the editor at sietzen@erols.com