The White House on Tuesday denounced secretive North Korea's overtures to international news outlets ahead of a long-range rocket launch as "propaganda." It also mocked the impoverished Stalinist regime's claim that it merely aims to put a weather satellite in orbit, saying it should just "go to weather.com."
Taking aim at North Korea's unprecedented media blitz ahead of the planned launch, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters that "you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this is propaganda. North Korea is trying to advance, test and show off its ballistic missile technology. The U.N. bans this activity, which is why they're using the press to pretend it's a satellite launch."
"North Korea doesn't need to spend this kind of money on a weather satellite," Vietor said in an emailed statement. "Go to weather.com. Reporters visiting North Korea just to cover this launch are missing the real story—history is passing North Korea by, and millions of innocent people are starving to death because the regime spends all its money on weapons."
Vietor also drew attention to a "horrific" report by a human rights group that North Korea detains more than 150,000 of its people in political prisons and labor camps.
North Korea says its rocket launch, expected between Thursday and Monday, aims to put a satellite called Kwangmyongsong-3 (Shining Star) in orbit as it marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's revered leader, Kim Il Sung.
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