The rogue communist regime in North Korea announced on Tuesday that it had successfully launched a spy satellite, one that dictator Kim Jong-un said the next day would be used to help “closely monitor” the United States.
Pyongyang claimed on Wednesday that the satellite had taken images of American military bases in Guam less than 24 hours after being launched, a claim that South Korean officials dismissed as “exaggerated” and likely impossible, as it takes days for such a satellite to find its orbit and begin its surveillance functions.
The launch of the “Malligyong-1” was the third such attempt this year and the first successful one. According to North Korea’s National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA), the satellite left North Phyongang Province shortly before 11 p.m. local time on Tuesday. South Korea confirmed the launch and its defense minister suggested that the success may have been the result of collaboration with Russia.
Kim Jong-un visited Russia in September, making an extended stop at one of the country’s top aerospace research facilities alongside strongman leader Vladimir Putin. Putin promised to make his own visit to Pyongyang in the near future.
“The launch of reconnaissance satellite is a legitimate right of the DPRK [North Korea] for strengthening its self-defensive capabilities and it will make a significant contribution to definitely ramping up the war preparedness of the armed forces,” North Korean state propaganda declared, “in conformity with the security environment created in and around the country owing to the enemies’ dangerous military moves.”
Kim Jong-un himself celebrated the launch as a “great event” on Wednesday, visiting the NATA headquarters according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). He claimed the satellite would “formally start its reconnaissance mission from December 1,” contradicting earlier claims that the satellite had already recorded images. Kim specifically identified the United States as the target for the spy satellite’s activities.
“Noting that the armed forces of the DPRK have taken in their hands both ‘eyes’ overlooking a very long distance and a strong ‘fist’ beating a very long distance,” KCNA documented, “he stressed once again that it is necessary to operate many more reconnaissance satellites in the aspect of increasing the effectiveness of the powerful military strike means of the DPRK as well as for self-defence.”
Kim added that “to closely monitor and grasp the nature of such maneuvers of the U.S. imperialists … is a serious issue” and promised the deployment of a larger number of similar satellites.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed that it had reason to believe North Korea launched the satellite, but could not confirm if it was working properly – only that it had not crashed yet. The South Korean newswire service Yonhap quoted Defense Minister Shin Won-sik suggesting in remarks to South Korea’s KBS radio station that Russia aided with the launch.
“In the first and second attempt, (the rocket) crashed due to engine issues, but the engine was successful this time,” Shin was quoted as saying. “Putin’s offer to help appears to not have been empty words.”
Putin reportedly offered to help North Korea develop its satellite technology during Kim’s visit to Russia in September, where the two toured the Vostochny Cosmodrome in western Russia and Kim, in turn, offered support for Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“The leader of the DPRK [North Korea] shows great interest in rocket engineering. They are also trying to develop space,” Putin said at the time.
Russian forces gifted Kim Jong-un a set of kamikaze drones during his time in the country – a move of questionable international legality that Russian officials insisted United Nations sanctions did not ban. Putin also sent a delegation to North Korea in October to follow up on agreements, many of them secret, made during Kim’s time in Russia.
The U.S. National Security Council issued a statement saying it “strongly condemns” the satellite launch on Tuesday.
“We urge all countries to condemn this launch and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations. The door has not closed on diplomacy but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement,” spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said. “The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and the defense of our Republic of Korea [South Korea] and Japanese allies.”
KCNA ironically published an editorial by a NATA researcher on Tuesday, the same day NATA launched the satellite, calling for an end to the militarization of space.
“The U.S. and its followers are further pushing ahead with their scheme to round off a satellite monitoring system on the strategic objects of the DPRK and its neighboring countries,” the researcher, Ri Song Jin, claimed.
“The U.S. and its vassal forces’ serious moves for space militarization are extremely unstable provocations escalating the arms race in the region and intensely damaging the global strategic equilibrium and security structure,” he continued. “Nothing can justify the dangerous scheme of the U.S. and its allied forces to use the entire outer space as an aggressive war means for carrying out their strategy for world domination.”