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    North Korean Alleged Nuclear Plans Aimed at Drawing US Attention

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    North Korea has been planning to attract Washington's attention by announcing a new rocket launch and restart of a nuclear reactor, experts told Sputnik, maintaining different opinions on the ultimate goals of the Asian country's leadership.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The North Korean state agency cited the director of the North’s National Aerospace Development Administration as saying Monday that Pyongyang was in the final stages of launching a geostationary satellite. South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Seoul would consider any Pyongyang's satellite launch as a ballistic-missile test.

    On Tuesday, the country confirmed the restarting of the reactor in Yongbyon, considered to be its main source of plutonium that could be used in nuclear weapons.


    Fear of the United States might force the country to make such aggressive announcements, Jim Hoare, a Korea expert at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London told Sputnik.

    "Quite what 'threat' they are seeing from the United States, I do not know. But any evidence of US activity against other countries – eg in Syria – worries them," the expert said.

    According to Hoare, Pyongyang could believe that Washington would turn to North Korea after partially settling crises with Cuba and Iran and is "warning against any attempt to put pressure on them."


    Other experts believe that the North Korean announcements in reality is an appeal for a relative normalization of relations with Washington.

    Andrei Lankov, the professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, believes that Pyongyang needs Washington's financial assistance after Russia made clear that economic relations between the countries can be only mutually beneficial.

    Lankov stressed that the big statements resembled political measures rather than real threats for regional peace and security.

    "They want US money in exchange for scaling down its nuclear program," the expert told Sputnik.

    Peter Hayes, the co-founder and executive director of Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, also believes that Pyongyang's statements are motivated by the economic interests.

    "They [statements] signal an intent to talk, which is not surprising now that the Iran deal is done," Hayes told Sputnik, adding that if the appeal will be ignored by Washington than the aggressive rhetoric of North Korean authorities may turn into reality.

    However, the real goals of the North Korean leadership might be not that important since, according to Hayes, North Korean statements have the opposite from Pyongyang's desired effect.


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