The “No. 1 military reconnaissance satellite” will be “launched in June” to “counter dangerous military actions by the United States and its vassals,” Ri Pyeong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling party’s Central Military Commission, told KCNA.
Japan said on Monday that Pyongyang has informed it that it plans to launch a “satellite” in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office said on Twitter on Monday that his country’s officials believe the launch will involve a “ballistic missile”.
According to Tokyo, Pyongyang informed the Japanese coast guard that it would launch a rocket between May 31 and June 11 that would land in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea or east of Luzon Island in the Philippines.
Satellites, together with “the many reconnaissance means that must be tested, are indispensable for tracking, monitoring (…) and accompanying dangerous military acts of the United States and its vassal forces in advance and in real time, According to the North Korean leader.
Citing “reckless” actions by Washington and Seoul, Ri said Pyongyang felt it needed to “expand means of reconnaissance and information, and upgrade various defensive and offensive weapons, to improve its military readiness”. Could.”
The senior official also accused the United States of carrying out “aerial espionage activities on the Korean Peninsula and its neighbourhood”, according to KCNA.
more battle test
“North Korea is justifying and legitimizing the upcoming launch of a military reconnaissance satellite by blaming joint military exercises,” Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.
He indicated that though satellites and ballistic missiles have different missions, their technology is similar.
“So if North Korea launches a satellite, it would be in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit any launch using ballistic missile technology,” he added.
North Korean ballistic missile tests in 2012 and 2016 were dubbed satellite launches, and both flew over the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.
North Korea has ramped up its missile launches in recent months, some of which have activated emergency systems in parts of Japan.
North Korea’s leader has inspected the country’s first military spy satellite set to be launched this month and approved a “plan for future action”.
Kim noted last year that the development of the reconnaissance satellite was one of Pyongyang’s top defense projects.
Since long-range rockets and space launchers share the same technology, analysts say developing the capability to put a satellite into orbit allows Pyongyang to hide tests of its banned intercontinental ballistic missiles.
South Korea’s foreign ministry condemned the North’s launch plans.
“North Korea’s so-called ‘satellite launch’ is a serious violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit any launch using ballistic missile technology, and a clearly illegal act that cannot be justified under any circumstances.” cannot be held.” Said.