The North Korean space agency, the National Aerospace Development Administration, announced that its new Chollima-1 rocket successfully placed the Malligyong-1 satellite into orbit on Tuesday night. While the launch has not been independently verified, it has drawn strong condemnation from the United States and its partners, as the United Nations prohibits North Korea from launching satellites, considering them as covers for missile technology tests.
Regardless, North Korea’s space agency has defended the launch, asserting the country’s legitimate right to strengthen its self-defense capabilities. The agency claims that the new spy satellite will allow North Korea to prepare for a potential war in response to what it refers to as “dangerous military movements of the enemy,” specifically referring to military operations by its neighbors, South Korea and the United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly supervised the satellite launch himself and praised the scientists and others involved, stating that North Korea will launch several more satellites to better monitor South Korea and other regions of the world. A spy satellite is one of the main military assets coveted by Kim Jong-un, who aims to modernize his country’s weapons systems to counter what he calls “escalating threats” from the United States.
Previous North Korean launch attempts in May and August had failed due to technical issues. The country had promised a third launch in October, but nothing happened during that month. South Korean officials believed the delay was possibly due to Russia providing technological assistance to North Korea’s space program.
The United States and South Korea strongly condemned North Korea’s recent satellite launch, with the U.S. National Security Council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, stating that it significantly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond. South Korea’s military has also expressed its readiness to respond to any provocation from North Korea.
In Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida described the launch as a “serious threat to the security of the population” and stated that he had condemned it strongly directly to North Korea.
While North Korea and Russia have denied allegations of a partnership involving arms trade, such an agreement would violate UN restrictions on arms trade with North Korea. The country’s continued advancements in its nuclear and military programs are of great concern to the international community.