Referenced article here.

From Ria Novosti comes news today that this time ’round, the DPRK gets it…sort of:

North Korea has informed Russia that it has signed up to an international treaty and convention on space, a Russian Foreign Ministry source said on Thursday.

“The Foreign Ministry of Russia, being a depositary state, received on March 5 notification that North Korea has joined the 1966 space treaty,” the source said.

The source said Pyongyang also told the Russian ministry that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had been informed of the country’s joining the 1974 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space.

North Korea’s official news agency said earlier that the government has informed the International Maritime Organization and other related global bodies that the country will launch a satellite-carrying rocket between April 4 and 8

Believing the old Russian proverb of trusting but verifying, we checked:

dprk-02

So:

– Declared flight bans for the period 4-8 April – Check

– Deposited signature for the Outer Space, Objects Launched into Outer Space and other key treaties – check

– Declaration/registration of object being launched into space – no (at least not yet)

– Compliance with UNSCR 1718? Umm, no:

“5.   Decides that the DPRK shall suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching; (emphasis added).

dprk-dmsp-dark-sWe’ve been down this road twice before – 1998 and 2006.  In each instance it served to ratchet up the unease of the DPRK’s neighbors while serving no beneficial purpose.  With a population on the knife’s edge of mass starvation and a domestic infrastructure only a blink or two removed from medieval, one may be given to wonder what the motivation is for such an undertaking.  There may be a couple of proximate reasons, one – to get the atention of the US and re-initiate the Six Powers talks (though there are others, like China, who also have a beef with the DPRK).  The other, frankly, is as a capabilities demo for marketing the one export that there is demand for – ballistic missiles.  It is no secret that the DPRK has been engaged in a number of bi-lateral assistance and outright sales of ballisitic missiles with the likes of Iran and Syria in particular, and Iran’s recent successful launch of its own satellite via the Safir SLV is likely a beneficiary of this cooperation.

Whether the DPRK would actually market an ICBM based off a TD-2 SLV is questionable, but certainly the knowledge and technology deriving from such  project, applied to a common family of missiles as has been developed and deplyed by the DPRK, Iran and Syria, would find its way to those and other countries seeking them.  Certainly there is little good that would come of a launch – successful or not.