North Korea is scheduled to launch a satellite next month, but Western intelligence agencies suspect the launch is a cover for testing new military capabilities, possibly for Iran, Israel Hayom reported Monday morning.
The Korean launch could be a test for a new intercontinental ballistic missile or a new launching pad — or possibly both. Some Western countries think the new technology belongs to a different country, most likely Iran.
North Korea plans to conduct the launch in mid-April, on the day marking the 100th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the nation’s founder.
Recently the North Korean regime reached an agreement with Western powers, stating that it would suspend its nuclear program in return for food and other aid packages.
Pyongyang said the satellite is a peaceful one, and therefore doesn’t contravene the agreement, but countries across the globe, led by the US and Russia, are saying such a move is problematic and disruptive.
Tensions between the two Korean countries are high, and South Korea threatened to shoot down the rocket if it entered its airspace.
According to Yoav Limor, senior military correspondent for Yisrael Hayom and Channel 2, recent assessments by intelligence agencies now believe that placing another satellite in orbit is only a minor goal for North Korea, while the testing of new missile capabilities is the main objective of the planned launch.
Iran has missiles with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers, and in February Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon said Iran was testing a missile with a range of 10,000 kilometers.
Limor said analysts in the West believe that the launch is going through because North Korea has a long-term agreement with Iran, and its fear of losing income from joint military programs outweighs its fear of repercussions from Western countries.