North Korea’s Space Program Takes On a Life of Its Own

The launch of the Unha-3 space launch vehicle on December 12, 2012 is without doubt another iteration of North Korea’s long-range ballistic missile program, as numerous commentators have pointed out in recent days.

While a great deal of attention is understandably devoted to North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs, what is often left out of the analysis of Pyongyang’s activities and intentions is its longstanding space program – a program that can be traced back to the 1980s, predating many Western concerns surrounding the nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

This short essay examines North Korea’s space program and what little is known about it, its regional implications, and argues that it must be taken much more seriously than has previously been the case.

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