North Korea announced on Wednesday that it has successfully placed a spy satellite into orbit, marking its third launch attempt this year. The launch is seen as a demonstration of North Korea’s determination to establish a space-based surveillance system amid ongoing tensions with the United States. While the claim has yet to be independently confirmed, it is likely to draw strong condemnation from the US and its allies, as the United Nations prohibits North Korea from conducting satellite launches, considering them to be disguised missile tests.
According to a statement from North Korea’s space authorities, the Malligyong-1 satellite was placed into orbit on Tuesday night, following liftoff from the country’s main launch center. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly observed the launch and stated that the spy satellite would enhance the nation’s war readiness in response to perceived hostile military movements by its rivals.
South Korea and Japan have confirmed the North Korean launch and have taken measures to ensure their readiness in coordination with the US. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the launch a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and a serious threat to the safety of people.
This launch is part of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s efforts to modernize the country’s weapons systems in response to what he sees as escalating US threats. While North Korea attempted to launch a spy satellite twice earlier this year, technical issues led to the failure of both attempts. The delay in this third launch is believed to be due to North Korea receiving technological assistance from Russia for its satellite launch program.
North Korea and Russia, both facing increased isolation globally, have been working to strengthen their relationship in recent months. They met in September, leading to speculation of a potential weapons deal involving North Korea resupplying conventional arms to Russia in exchange for assistance in enhancing its nuclear and military programs. Both countries deny these allegations, which would violate UN bans on weapons trading with North Korea.
This successful launch, if confirmed, could signify a significant advancement in North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities. The launch has prompted South Korea to consider reinforcing its countermeasures to ensure the safety of its citizens. Despite condemnation from the US, South Korea, and Japan, previous attempts to garner a response from the UN Security Council have been unsuccessful due to opposition from Russia and China.
North Korea has conducted around 100 missile tests since last year in its pursuit of developing a reliable nuclear arsenal targeting the US and its allies. Analysts believe that the ability to place a satellite into orbit indicates that North Korea has the capability to build a missile capable of carrying a warhead. In response to this launch, South Korea has suggested that it may suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance and firing exercises.