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North Korea Tests First Spy Satellite: Kim Jong-un

Kim underlined the importance of acquiring a space-based monitoring system during his visit to the North's aerospace agency on Tuesday, according to the Korean Central News Agency

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced on Wednesday that his country has completed building its first military surveillance satellite and directed officials to proceed with the launch as scheduled.

Kim underlined the importance of acquiring a space-based monitoring system during his visit to the North's aerospace agency on Tuesday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea claims that its recent weapons tests, including the launch of a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile aimed to target the US mainland last week, are in response to joint military drills between the US and its regional allies South Korea and Japan.

According to KCNA, Kim said at the National Aerospace Development Administration that military reconnaissance was critical for North Korea to properly employ its measures of war deterrent.

The military reconnaissance satellite No. 1 had been created as of April and directed that final preparations for its launch at an unspecified date be expedited. According to KCNA, Kim said that North Korea needs to launch multiple satellites to firmly create an intelligence-gathering capability.

Kim also accused the United States and South Korea of escalating aggressive military campaigns in the name of strengthening their alliance. He charged the US with changing South Korea into “an advanced base for aggression” by putting strategic assets such as aircraft carriers and nuclear-capable bombers.

The US and South Korean forces have increased their joint drills in order to strengthen their deterrence against North Korea's rising nuclear threats. This week, the allies began a 12-day aerial practice involving 110 warplanes and a one-day maritime missile defence drill with Japan.

North Korea, for its part, has conducted over 100 rounds of missile tests since the beginning of last year, with approximately 30 of them occurring this year. While North Korea condemns the US-South Korean drills, observers say it also uses them as a pretext to enhance its own military capabilities, which it believes will put more pressure on Washington to make larger concessions, such as lifting sanctions.

Kim has been working on various high-tech weapons, including a spy satellite. A solid-propellant ICBM, a nuclear-powered submarine, a hypersonic missile and a multi-warhead missile are among the others. North Korea has performed such tests, but it is unclear how close they are to becoming operational.

Many experts are sceptical that North Korea possesses sophisticated cameras capable of being used on a spy satellite, owing to the low-resolution imagery produced from past test launches.

Kim's remarks appeared to link the spy satellite to North Korea's escalatory nuclear strategy, which allows for pre-emptive nuclear strikes. Kim told KCNA that one of the goals of its spy satellite is to be able to “use pre-emptive military force when the situation demands.”

A long-range rocket would be required to place a spy satellite in orbit. The United Nations, however, prohibits such a launch by North Korea because it sees it as a cover for testing its long-range ballistic missile technology.

North Korea launched its first and second Earth observation satellites into orbit in 2012 and 2016, respectively, but neither satellite returned any imagery to the country, according to outside analysts. The United Nations imposed sanctions in response to those launches.

North Korea has evaded new United Nations penalties for its recent ballistic missile launches in 2022 and this year because UN Security Council permanent members Russia and China have refused to support the United States and others' efforts to tighten restrictions on it.

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