North Korea announced on Wednesday that it had successfully put a military spy satellite into orbit, following two previous failed attempts. The launch was condemned by the United States and its allies as a violation of UN sanctions.
The rocket carrying the satellite took off on Tuesday night from North Phyongan province and accurately placed the reconnaissance satellite, named ‘Malligyong-1’, into its designated orbit. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was present at the launch and commended the scientists and technicians involved in the mission.
The United States swiftly denounced the launch as a brazen violation of UN sanctions and expressed concerns about the destabilization of the region. In response, South Korea announced that it would resume surveillance operations along the border with North Korea, which had been suspended in 2018 as part of a joint agreement to reduce military tensions.
North Korea had previously attempted to launch a spy satellite in May and August, but both efforts failed. The international community, including Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington, had repeatedly warned against another launch, as it would contravene UN resolutions. While space launch rockets and ballistic missiles share certain technological similarities, Pyongyang is prohibited from conducting any tests involving ballistic technology under UN resolutions.
According to South Korea’s spy agency, Pyongyang may have received technical advice from Russia in exchange for sending weapons shipments to support Moscow’s activities in Ukraine. North Korea justified the launch of the reconnaissance satellite as a legitimate right for strengthening its self-defensive capabilities in response to perceived threats from South Korea and the United States.
The Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea intends to launch more satellites in the near future to enhance its surveillance capabilities over South Korea.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that they are currently analyzing the launch and have not confirmed whether the satellite has indeed been successfully placed in orbit. They labeled the military satellite launch as a provocative act that violates UN Security Council resolutions and prohibited scientific and technological cooperation.
Putting a spy satellite into orbit would significantly enhance North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly concerning South Korea, and provide valuable data in potential military conflicts. This comes as North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year, prompting increased defense cooperation between Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo. Additionally, the USS Carl Vinson, a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, recently arrived at South Korea’s Busan Naval Base.