May 27, 2016

North Korea registers satellite with UN

by Leo Byrne . Registration is latest participation in long standing DPRK interest in space affairs

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

North Korea has official registered its recently launched satellite with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), according to DPRK media and a letter on the UN office’s website.

The DPRK notified UNOOSA of the Kwangmyongsong-4 with a letter on May 9 that was published earlier this week.

“The Permanent Mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations (Vienna) has the honor to transmit … information concerning the satellite Kwangmyongsong-4, which was launched by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 7 February 2016,” the letter reads.

The documentation included in the letter gives some of the satellite’s technical details, adding the purpose of the satellite is for “earth observation.” The official registration means the North Korea is now legally responsible for the Kwangmyongsong-4.

“The intent behind the registration of a space object is to identify which State “retains jurisdiction and control” over a space object and bears ‘international responsibility’ for it. These factors relate to a State’s potential liability for any damages that may be caused by the object,” a document sent to NK News from UNOOSA reads.

The letter is the North Korea’s most recent diplomatic participation, but the DPRK government has long shown a political interest in space affairs at the UN.

North Korea already acceded to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1976 Registration Convention in 2009, as well as the 1972 Liability Convention in 2016. North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong 3-2 satellite was also registered in January 2013.

According to UNOOSA’s database, the DPRK has registered two objects with the organization, also including its 2013 satellite which many observers thought never functioned.

The earlier satellite, the Kwangmyongsong 3-2 attempt was intended to be used for “earth observation satellite for surveying crops, forest resources and natural disasters,” the corresponding letter reads. Both satellites come under the website heading of functional space objects registered with the Secretary General.

Last year North Korea also told UNOOSA that it set up its own national registry of objects in space, giving its space agency NADA – which is also sanctioned by the UN – as its “national focal point for the registration of space objects.”

“(In) accordance with article II of the Convention on the Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (General Assembly resolution 3235 (XXIX), annex), has the honor to inform the Secretary-General that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has established a national registry of objects launched into outer space,” the letter reads, before giving NADA’s contact details.