North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Tuesday, with the aim of putting its first military reconnaissance satellite into orbit. This launch marked the country’s third attempt to achieve satellite deployment, following failed attempts in May and August. The rocket flew south over the sea between the Korean Peninsula and China.
The United States, South Korea, and Japan were on high alert, concerned about the possibility of debris falling on their territories. These countries also wanted to gather intelligence on North Korea’s satellite program to assess its impact on regional stability.
North Korea’s Chollima-1 rocket was launched from the Tongchang-ri satellite launching station near the border with China. The purpose of these launches was to enhance North Korea’s ability to monitor American and South Korean military movements in the region and strengthen its nuclear-attack capabilities. However, both previous attempts resulted in rocket malfunctions, preventing the placement of the Malligyong-1, North Korea’s first homemade military spy satellite, into orbit.
In preparation for its latest launch, North Korea sought assistance from Russia to overcome its technological shortcomings. South Korean officials reported that Russia provided help as part of a package of incentives connected to the North’s provision of artillery shells and other munitions to support Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
Despite warnings from the United States, South Korea, and Japan, North Korea proceeded with the launch. Through United Nations Security Council resolutions, launching space rockets and engaging in arms and technology transactions are banned for North Korea. However, the conflict in Ukraine has brought North Korea and Russia closer, as both countries have a shared interest in countering the United States.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has provided artillery shells, rockets, and conventional munitions to Russia, which is facing depleted weapons stores due to the Ukraine conflict. In return, Kim hopes to receive food, fuel, spare parts for outdated military equipment, and technical expertise to advance North Korea’s nuclear and rocket programs.
Although Moscow and Pyongyang denied engaging in such transactions, their meeting in September indicated a desire to expand bilateral cooperation. Kim’s visit to various military and space-related facilities in the Russian Far East suggested his intentions to secure resources and knowledge to strengthen North Korea’s military capabilities.