US Unable To Discount DPRK Satellite Claim By Paul Flatin Tokyo Kyodo 05 Sep 98 Washington, Sept. 4 Kyodo -- the United States cannot discount north Korea's claim that it launched a satellite Monday until it finishes reviewing its intelligence data, a defense department official said Friday. "The United States space command is in the process of evaluating north Korean assertions of having placed a satellite into orbit," the official said. "We are continuing to analyze the data as it is received. At this point, we cannot verify north Korean claims nor can we disprove them," he said. Pyongyang has said that Monday's launch of a multistage rocket was not a ballistic missile test but a successful launch of north Korea's first satellite. A State Department official told Kyodo news that the u.S. Will continue to view the test launch as a destabilizing factor in northeast Asia and beyond because a multistage rocket can serve as either a satellite launcher or a ballistic missile. "As recognized by the munitions technology control regime, any rocket capable of putting up a satellite, is also inherently capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction to many countries," the official said. The official noted that many countries, including the u.S., Russia and China, use the same rocket boosters to deliver both weapon and satellites payloads. "So, no matter what, this launch confirms am increase in (north Korea's) capability to threaten its neighbors," the official said. The pentagon's u.S. Space command operates an extensive network of sophisticated spy satellites to monitor the globe for early warning of any missile attack on the u.S. Or its allies. They detected and tracked Monday's launch of a north Korean multistage rocket. Navy ships and air force planes equipped with advanced intelligence-gathering cameras, radars and other sensors were also deployed to the region to observe the launch. Defense analysts in the u.S. Say it is extremely unlikely the u.S. Could have overlooked a satellite launch because the test was so closely monitored by so many intelligence assets. However, john pike, director of the space policy project at the American federation of scientists, says it is also not impossible for the u.S. Space tracking network to make a mistake. He explained that the final stage of the rocket, that presumably lifted P'yongyang's satellite into orbit, may have been too small for u.S. Radars to detect clearly. Pike also said the orbit north Korea claims to have put their satellite into is full of thousands of pieces of space junk, making it time-consuming, but not impossible for the space command to identify what, if it exists, is likely to be a satellite no larger than a small melon. "For all the money we sink into (u.S. Space command) you figure they have a perfect knowledge... [ellipsis as received] they clearly do not, and I think that's one reason why we haven't been able to get an official answer out of them," pike said.