North Korea
Ryu Kumchol, deputy director of North Korea's space technology committee, as a news conference in Pyongyang on Tuesday. REUTERS

North Korea said Tuesday that preparations for the Unha-3 rocket, which would carry its first satellite into space, had been completed and that it was now assembled and ready for launch.

Ryu Kumchol, a deputy director of the committee for space technology, stated that all the assembly and preparations for the satellite launch were completed.

Russia, joining other major powers, condemned the launch on Tuesday by calling it an example of disregard for the U.N. Security Council.

Ryu declared that North Korea does not recognize any U.N. resolution which violates our national sovereignty and added that having a satellite was a universal right.

Responding to U.S. and allied claims that the satellite launch was really a ballistic missile test in disguise and an affront to the international community, Ryu commented that no country in the world would want to launch a ballistic missile from such an open site.

North Korea has attempted to demonstrate civilian intentions and transparency in its satellite launch, including inviting foreign journalists to the launch pad.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said, in an email quoted by Politico, that the reclusive nation is using the press to pretend it's a satellite launch. North Korea doesn't need to spend this kind of money on a weather satellite. Go to

Last-Minute Diplomacy

The Obama administration is continuing to apply pressure on China to prevent the North Korean launch from going forward.

On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the launch would carry repercussions, including denial of food aid to the North.

Nuland said the launch posed a threat to world security, and it will be inconsistent with its (North Korea's) recent undertakings to refrain from any kind of long-range missile launches.

She noted that the U.S. urged China to convince North Korea to not carry out the launch.

An Apple By Any Other Name?

Experts believe the Unha-3 rocket is a development of the Taepodong-2 intermediate ballistic missile. The Taepodong series is itself a further development of Scud missile technology provided to North Korea during the Cold War by the former Soviet Union. The Taepodong-2 has a range of 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers, or approximately 2,500 to 3,700 miles.

The Unha-3 is a three stage liquid-fueled rocket capable of delivering a 100-kilogram (220-pound) payload into orbit.

North Korea attempted its first satellite launch in 1998 with the Paektusan rocket, originally derived from the Taepodong-1.

The North claimed the original Paektusan launch was successful, but U.S. space tracking said no object was delivered into orbit and the launch was a failure.

North Korea tested the Unha-2 in 2009, but it too failed to reach orbit.