North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised the launch on Tuesday (21/11). State media said the spy satellite reached orbit successfully.
Kim wants a series of spy satellites to monitor US and allied forces in the region. But that depends on the number and quality of photos produced by the satellites.
Earlier this year, the South Korean military discovered pieces of a North Korean satellite that had fallen into the ocean. He said the device had “no military benefit.” But that’s debatable, says analyst Tianran Xu of Open Nuclear Network. “I think a satellite with basic capabilities could be a first step or a slight increase in North Korea’s situational awareness,” he explained.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a news program at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, November 22, 2023. (AP/Lee Jin-man)
Although Tuesday’s launch was expected, it still triggered warnings and brief evacuation orders in southern Japan.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the move.
“Even if the intention is to launch a satellite, using ballistic missile technology is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. “This is also a serious problem that greatly affects the safety of our people,” he said.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is on a state visit to the UK. In response, Yoon gave approval to partially terminate the inter-Korean military agreement.
The 2018 agreement was signed during a rare period of diplomacy between the two Koreas.
The diplomacy was short-lived and North Korea soon resumed military provocations including weapons tests.
More launches will take place, this time from the South Korean side. This month, South Korea plans to launch its first self-made spy satellite using a SpaceX rocket. (hour/lt)