'North Korea will push for new rocket launch'
Seoul: North Korea will push for the launch of a new and bigger rocket as part of a five-year space programme despite last week's failed launch, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan said on Monday.
The North last week carried out a rocket test that ended in failure, disintegrating in mid-air soon after blast-off and plunging into the sea in a major embarrassment for the reclusive state.
The launch drew international condemnation despite Pyongyang insisting it was intended to put a satellite into orbit for peaceful purposes.
The Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper, today said that the launch was part of the North's five-year space rocket programme which began this year and is aimed at helping the country's "economic development".
It quoted an unnamed official involved in the North's rocket programme as saying Pyongyang would develop a bigger rocket than the one launched last week, the Unha-3.
"(North Korean) scientists and engineers will never give up" despite the failed launch, Choson Sinbo said.
North Korea has been developing missiles for decades both for what it terms self-defence and as a lucrative export commodity.
Also today, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak accused the North of trying to develop a long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Lee urged the impoverished country to abandon its missile and nuclear programme, warning that an arms race had led to the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
"North Korea may think it can threaten the world and promote internal unity with nuclear weapons and missiles, but this would instead put itself into greater danger," Lee said in a radio address.
"We clearly saw from history that the former Soviet Union collapsed while engaging in an arms race," he added.
The botched rocket launch cost Pyongyang an estimated USD 850 million, enough to buy some 2.5 million tons of corn and solve its food shortages for six years, he said.
"The only way for North Korea to survive is to abandon nuclear weapons and cooperate with the international community through reform and openness," he said. (AFP)