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(2nd LD) N. Korea says it will launch 1st military spy satellite in June

11:28 May 30, 2023

(ATTN: REWRITES lead; UPDATES with more details throughout)
By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Tuesday it will launch its first military spy satellite in June in a bid to monitor "dangerous" military activity by the United States and South Korea in real time.

The North disclosed the timing of its planned launch through state media, one day after it notified Japan of its plan to launch a satellite between May 31 and June 11.

In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, Ri Pyong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea, said the North's satellite-based reconnaissance is an "indispensable" act to bolster its self-defense capabilities against the enemies' "reckless" military exercises.

The North's spy satellite to be launched in June and various reconnaissance means to be newly tested are "indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts" of the U.S. and South Korea, Ri said in the English-language statement.

He also vowed to "expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons and have the timetables for carrying out their development plans," without elaborating on details.

This photo, carried by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on Dec. 19, 2022, shows the North conducting "an "important final-stage test" at Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, Cholsan, North Pyongan Province, for the development of a reconnaissance satellite the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Earlier this month, North Korea announced the completion of preparations to mount its first military spy satellite on a rocket, with the North's leader Kim Jong-un approving the "future action plan."

A military reconnaissance satellite is among the high-tech weapons systems that the North's leader vowed to develop at a key party congress in 2021, along with a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a nuclear-powered submarine.

Ri condemned the U.S. and South Korea for raising military tensions, taking issue with the allies' largest-ever live-fire exercise and the South's plan to host a multinational naval drill aimed at preventing the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

He also slammed the U.S. for intensifying its "hostile air espionage activities" with the recent dispatch of high-profile military spy aircraft over the Yellow Sea.

"We will comprehensively consider the present and future threats and put into more thoroughgoing practice the activities for strengthening all-inclusive and practical war deterrents," Ri said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd from R, rear), along with his daughter Ju-ae (far R, rear), talks with members of the Non-permanent Satellite Launch Preparatory Committee in Pyongyang on May 16, 2023, to inspect the country's first military reconnaissance satellite, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

South Korea "strongly" warned against North Korea's planned satellite launch Monday, vowing to make Pyongyang pay "due prices" if it goes ahead with the launch.

The North's proposed satellite launch would violate a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions banning its nuclear and missile programs, as it uses the same technology used in ballistic missiles.

Experts said a spy satellite will help the North stage a precision strike against targets in war situations, as it will enhance the country's surveillance capability, but many still raised doubts about the North's satellite capabilities.

In December last year, the North conducted an "important, final-stage" test for the development of a spy satellite and released black-and-white photos of South Korean cities that were shot by its "test satellite" from space. Outside experts said they are "too crude" to be satellite photos.

The North last launched the "Kwangmyongsong-4," an Earth-observation satellite, in February 2016, claiming it has the right to develop "peaceful" space programs.

In April, North Korea fired a solid-fuel ICBM for the first time, after launching more than 70 ballistic missiles last year alone, the most in a single year.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
(END)

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