North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, examined the country's inaugural military surveillance satellite and approved its "future action plan," according to state media on Wednesday. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim met with the Non-permanent Satellite Launch Preparatory Committee on Tuesday prior to inspecting the satellite.
One month earlier, Kim declared that the satellite's construction had concluded and authorised its launch.
The April 18 report emerged approximately one week after Pyongyang claimed the successful launch of a novel solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, signifying a significant advancement in its prohibited weapons programs.
Experts have noted substantial technological similarities between the advancement of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and the capabilities required for space launches.
According to KCNA, on Tuesday, Kim thoroughly familiarised himself with the committee's work and then proceeded to inspect the military reconnaissance satellite No. 1. The satellite has completed the final general assembly check and space environment test and is now prepared for loading.
Kim Jong Un accused the United States and South Korea of heightening what he referred to as "provocative actions" against North Korea. He affirmed his country's determination to exercise its right to self-defense. KCNA further stated that Kim endorsed the preparatory committee's future action plan.
The creation of a military reconnaissance satellite was among the crucial defense initiatives outlined by Kim in 2021. In December 2022, North Korea announced the completion of a significant final-stage test for the development of a surveillance satellite, aiming to finalize it by April of the following year.
Upon the release of black-and-white images claimed to be captured by a North Korean satellite, experts in South Korea swiftly expressed skepticism, citing the poor quality of the images.
Although no specific launch date has been provided by Pyongyang, Kim recently stated that the satellite would be launched as scheduled.
By declaring itself an "irreversible" nuclear power, North Korea effectively eliminated the prospect of denuclearization negotiations.
According to analysts, Pyongyang would face challenges in conducting satellite reconnaissance independently without substantial technological assistance from Russia or China.
Last month, Yang Moo-jin, the president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, highlighted that North Korea's reconnaissance satellites hold great importance as they pose a significant threat to the South in the event of a nuclear pre-emptive strike, as he informed AFP.
In response, Washington and Seoul have intensified their defense cooperation, conducting joint military exercises that involve advanced stealth jets and prominent strategic assets from the United States.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)