Kim Jong Un’s Visit Sparks Speculation: North Korea Set to Launch First Spy Satellite in Years
- Posted on May 17, 2023
- By Top Stories
- 60 Views
Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his preteen daughter, recently visited a facility involved in assembling North Korea’s first spy satellite. This visit suggests that the country may soon conduct its first space rocket launch in approximately seven years.
The Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim inspected the “military reconnaissance satellite No. 1, which is ready for loading.” The satellite’s purpose is to monitor US forces and their allies in Asia.
The visit emphasized the necessity of the spy satellite due to escalating confrontational actions by the US and South Korea against North Korea.
While North Korea is prohibited by United Nations Security Council resolutions from conducting ballistic missile tests, the country has long claimed its entitlement to a civilian space program for satellite launches.
The US and its partners have expressed concerns that technology derived from North Korea’s space program could advance its ballistic missile capabilities.
Although no specific date was given for a potential launch, North Korea may be seeking to upstage South Korea, which has a scheduled launch of its homegrown Nuri space rocket on May 24. Kim’s appearance at the satellite facility marked his first public appearance in 28 days, preceding the gathering of Group of Seven leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, where security threats posed by Pyongyang will be discussed.
Recent satellite imagery indicates rapid construction progress at key facilities in North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station, including the likely construction of a new launch pad. North Korea’s last space rocket launch was in February 2016, but it is widely believed that the claimed earth-observation satellite did not reach orbit.
Over the years, North Korea’s space program has diminished in importance compared to its advancements in intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
While satellite launches raise security concerns, particularly given North Korea’s recent tests of new weapons, such as a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, it is essential to note that the country’s space launcher has likely advanced since its last attempt.
A new satellite launch would signify the accumulation of these developments and potentially pose additional challenges for international security, as North Korea continues to enhance its military capabilities.
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