North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un said on Thursday that the country will launch many spy satellites in the next years to provide real-time information on military moves by the US and its allies.
Kim said, “a lot” of military reconnaissance satellites would be deployed into sun-synchronous polar orbit during a five-year plan announced last year when reviewing North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration, according to state news agency KCNA.
KCNA said, “He noted that the purpose of developing and operating the military reconnaissance satellite is to provide the armed forces of the DPRK with real-time information on military actions against it by the aggression troops of the U.S. imperialism and its vassal forces in South Korea, Japan, and the Pacific.”
Recently, North Korea claims to have conducted two satellite system tests. The tests, according to officials in South Korea, Japan, and the United States, involved the firing of ballistic missiles.
International condemnation followed the launches, and the US military announced on Thursday that it had enhanced monitoring and reconnaissance collecting in the Yellow Sea.
After a “significant increase” in North Korean missile testing, the US stated it had increased its ballistic missile defense preparedness.
According to KCNA, Kim defended the satellite work as a means of safeguarding North Korea’s sovereignty and national interests.
KCNA said, “He stressed that this urgent project for perfecting the country’s war preparedness capacity by improving our state’s war deterrent is the supreme revolutionary task, a political and military priority task to which our Party and government attach the most importance.”
North Korea has not tested a nuclear weapon or any of its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) since 2017, but it has hinted that it may do so again now that discussions with the US have stagnated.
The US Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) indicated in its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment released this week that the new spate of missile launches could be the start of a return to ICBM and nuclear bomb tests this year.
According to 38 North, a US-based monitoring group, recent suborbital launches, which presumably used road-mobile medium-range ballistic missiles, appeared to be aimed to “pop the key components of an imagery reconnaissance satellite up to operational altitudes for a few minutes of testing.”
Satellite stabilization, imaging payload, and data transfer, for example, may have failed in previous tests, necessitating more testing, according to the group.
The group said, “It remains to be seen how capable any North Korean imagery satellite would be, the frequency of launches, or how many such satellites might be maintained in orbit at any one time—all key indicators of the actual military significance of such satellites.”
North Korea, on the other hand, obviously regards this capability as having propaganda value and demonstrating its scientific strength and successful leadership, according to the report.
38 North said, “It may also be the precursor to other more provocative developments mentioned by Kim, such as the testing of multiple-warhead missiles, solid-propellant ICBMs, and ICBM-range solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missiles.”