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ConflictsNorth Korea

Kim Jong Un inspects North Korea's first spy satellite

May 17, 2023

The North Korean leader has approved an unspecified "future action plan" for launching the military satellite.But analysts are skeptical about its readiness.

Kim Jong Un and his daughter in white lab coats surrounded by members of the  Non-permanent Satellite Launch Preparatory Committee.
At North Korea's aerospace agency Kim approved an unspecified 'future action plan' for the satellite launch. Image: KCNA/REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a military satellite station on Tuesday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The launch of the satellite would have to use long-range missile technology which has been banned by the UN security council resolutions.

At the country's aerospace agency Kim approved an unspecified "future action plan" for launching the satellite. Some analysts predict that this could happen in the next few weeks.

Kim Jong Un's visit to the satellite station

The visit on Tuesday was Kim's first public appearance in one month.

Photos showed Kim and his daughter dressed in white lab coats, talking to scientists near an object that looked like the main part of a satellite.

"After acquainting himself in detail with the work of the committee, (Kim) inspected the military reconnaissance satellite No. 1, which is ready for loading after undergoing the final general assembly check and space environment test," according to KCNA.

The dictator said that successfully launching the satellite is an "urgent requirement of the prevailing security environment of the country," said the state media.

Kim, on Tuesday, also met with the non-permanent Satellite Launch Preparatory Committee, a group dedicated to launching the country's first military intelligence satellite.

Kim Jong Un and his daughter Kim Ju Ae in white lab coats speaking to the media.
Kim Jong Un met with members of the Non-permanent Satellite Launch Preparatory Committee. Image: KCNA/REUTERS

Is North Korea ready to launch a spy satellite?

Activity at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station resumed after nearly half-year's hiatus, said 38 North, a US based North Korea monitoring project, citing satellite imagery.

Earlier this year Pyongyang had reportedly completed building its first military spy satellite and Kim had urged for final preparations to speed up.

The next step for the launch would be installing the satellite on what would likely be a three-stage space rocket, said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean studies, to KCNA.

North Korea has previously conducted missiles and rocket tests to demonstrate their ability to deliver a satellite into space.

However, some South Korean analysts said that the satellite shown in the images appears too small and crudely designed to support high-resolution imagery.

Photos released by North Korea captured by previous missiles were low-resolution.

Kim Jong Un and his daughter view a test launch.
North Korea has test-fired over 100 missiles since the start of 2022. Image: KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea's continued testing

Kim said that acquiring a spy satellite would be crucial for his efforts to bolster the country's defense as the US and South Korea escalate their "confrontational moves" against North Korea.

The leader was referring to the expansion of the joint military drills between the two countries and their discussions on strengthening their nuclear deterrence strategies to cope with Pyongyang's threats.

In response to North Korea's plans to launch a spy satellite,  Japan's military last month ordered troops to activate missile interceptors and get ready to shoot down satellite fragments that may fall on Japanese territory.

North Korea has test-fired over 100 missiles since the start of 2022. 

ns/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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