• Kyodo


North Korea is prepared to launch a controversial satellite “at any time,” the country’s ambassador to Britain said Wednesday.

Hyon Hak Bong told an audience in London that North Korea is ready to launch the satellite — suspected by the international community to be a ballistic missile test — despite the threat of increased sanctions.

He told a gathering at the international think-tank Chatham House, “Launching a satellite is the work performed by every country. It’s the legitimate right of a sovereign state to develop space programs. Our launching of a satellite is for peaceful purposes.

“We are prepared to launch it at any time, any place. European countries launch satellites and our neighboring countries.”

Asked about the threat of sanctions, he said, “We have nothing to be afraid of. If they pass a resolution or (impose) sanctions this is another provocation which makes the situation worse.”

North Korea has indicated that it may launch a satellite on or around Oct. 10 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party.

The United States and Japan believe this could be a test for a long-range ballistic missile and have urged North Korea to refrain from any launch.

North Korea promised to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs after a 2005 session of the six-nation talks made up of the United States, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia and North Korea but later flouted it by conducting nuclear tests and test-launching ballistic missiles believed designed to deliver a nuclear warhead.