As South Korean and U.S. officials believe North Korea is prepared to test fire a long-range missile, North Korean officials have announced the nation is looking forward to developing a space program in the near future.
"The DPRK's policy of advancing to space for peaceful purposes is a justifiable aim that fits the global trend of the times," government officials said in a state-run newspaper. "There is no power in the world that can stop it. As long as developing and using space are aimed at peaceful purposes and such efforts contribute to enhancing human beings' happiness, no one in the world can find fault with them."
Despite international concern, North Korea has been involved in space research and development, but hasn't launched its own satellites or rockets into space. Several nations -- and possibly NASA in the near future -- fuel their space programs through military funding, and there is a concern North Korea would use its satellite launch technology to develop more sophisticated rocket technology for missiles and weapons of war.
During a launch in 1998, North Korea launched a missile that sailed over Japan and splashed into the Pacific Ocean, with government officials saying the missile helped put a satellite into orbit.
Along with a possible entrance into space, North Korea is almost ready to test launch the Taepodong-2 missile, which has an estimated range of 4,100 miles. Pyongyang would like to test launch the missile to garner international attention, especially from new U.S. President Barack Obama.
North Korea first tried to launch Taepodong-2 in 2006, but the missile failed 40 seconds after launch, U.S. security officials said.
The United States and numerous other western nations have become increasingly concerned by a growing number of nations looking to develop space programs.
Iran recently launched a satellite into orbit despite international concern its space program could be used for military purposes.