North Korea and Russia have cozied up to the idea of cooperating on a program for outer space exploration, along with other transportation and trade-related projects, according to multiple news reports. Pak Hyon Su, deputy head of the North Korean Committee of Space Technology, told a Russian news agency that the two countries hoped to begin the bilateral space research program this year. The move could put Western powers on watch for attempts by either country to bring defense-related infrastructure to the final frontier.
"The DPRK will develop proactive cooperation in the sphere of peaceful use of outer space with foreign organizations and countries, including Russia, on equal and mutually beneficial basis," Pak told TASS on Friday. "The DPRK space program has peaceful purposes, and this country, like Russia, is against militarization of space."
The U.S. last week signaled its interest in cooperating with Russia and China in the field of security in outer space, TASS reported. Frank A. Rose, the U.S. assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance, expressed confidence that Russia and North Korea would not use space exploration as a front for weapons testing.
"It is reasonable to assume that most nations, if not all nations, would find it to be in their national interest to prevent conflict from extending into space, knowing that such conflict would degrade the sustainability of the space environment, hinder future space-based scientific activities, and potentially reduce the quality of life for everybody on Earth if the benefits of space-based applications were eroded,” Rose told TASS at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Thursday.
Russia and North Korea have also agreed to build the first bridge for car traffic between the two countries, at a place where they share a border in the northeastern corner of North Korea. The new bridge would span across the Tumen River and be primarily used for cars and other transportation needs, according to a UPI report. There is currently a rail bridge connecting Russia and North Korea to transport cars and other goods between the two countries.
Russian officials said the plan was hatched to increase bilateral exchange and tourism in a special economic zone in the Russian Far East that faces the North Korean city of Rason. The countries are also working on supplying Russian power to North Korean industry near the border. The transportation plans come ahead of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit to Moscow on May 9, UPI reported.