North Korea announced the successful launch of a military spy satellite, marking its third attempt in the past six months. State media reported that the rocket, named Malligyong-1, was launched from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station at 10.42pm on Tuesday night. According to North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA, the satellite was accurately placed in orbit approximately 12 minutes after liftoff.
The launch took place shortly after North Korea had informed Japan of its intention to launch a satellite between November 22 and December 1. However, neighboring countries and experts worldwide are now seeking to verify the claim, as it potentially violates longstanding United Nations resolutions imposed on North Korea due to its nuclear program.
The state media released photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un alongside cheering scientists and engineers, indicating their desire to showcase the successful launch. Previous attempts in May and August had ended in failure, with the rockets plunging into the sea.
Neighboring countries such as Japan and South Korea, as well as the United States, are adopting a cautious approach and analyzing the situation before confirming the satellite’s successful deployment. Experts suggest that it might take some time to determine if the satellite is in orbit and functioning as intended, including the ability to capture and transmit images from space.
During his visit to Russia‘s Vostochny Cosmodrome in September, Kim Jong Un held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, signaling closer ties between the two nations. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently expressed concerns about the growing and dangerous military ties between North Korea and Russia. However, experts are skeptical about the extent of Russia’s assistance to North Korea in such a short time.
North Korea claims that the satellite is necessary for national security against perceived threats from South Korea and the United States. They believe it will enhance their ability to monitor their southern neighbor. State media reported that Kim Jong Un had already examined photographs of US military bases in Guam sent from the newly launched satellite, Malligyong-1.
While some analysts doubt the satellite’s capabilities, it is considered a significant advancement for North Korea. Despite its potentially low resolution, it provides the country with valuable satellite technology. To develop a more sophisticated satellite, North Korea may need to develop a larger rocket.
Following the launch, South Korea announced the suspension of parts of the Comprehensive Military Agreement signed in 2018 between Kim Jong Un and former South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo stated that North Korea’s actions demonstrated a lack of commitment to reducing military tensions and building trust on the Korean peninsula. China, North Korea’s main ally, expressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region.
In the meantime, South Korea is planning to launch its own spy satellite on a SpaceX rocket later this month. Experts suggest that North Korea’s recent launch may have been an attempt to preempt South Korea’s upcoming satellite deployment.
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