North Korea announced today that it has put its first spy satellite into orbit, an action to which the South has responded with the partial suspension of a 2018 bilateral military agreement, which increases the escalation of tension on the peninsula by another step.
The National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA) said that it launched the Chollima-1 rocket the day before at 10:42 p.m. local time (1:42 p.m. GMT on Tuesday) and that it “Precisely placed” the ‘Malligyong-1’ satellite into orbit about 11 minutes after takeoffaccording to the state agency KCNA.
In the absence of confirmation from Seoul or Washington that the satellite is correctly deployed and operational in a low-altitude polar orbit, Pyongyang also assured today that the device has taken “photos of the Anderson air base, the port of Apra (where a naval base is located) and other areas of important enclaves of North American troops” on the island of Guam, in the Pacific..
If true, North Korean surveillance capabilities would have taken a significant leap with the deployment of this satellite, while NATA said it will present at the next plenary session of the North Korean single party, scheduled for the last days of December, a plan to “launch several additional reconnaissance satellites in a short period of time” that would expand and strengthen these capabilities.
Tuesday’s launch comes after two failed attempts in May and August, and was supervised by the North Korean leader. Kim Jong-unwho appeared at the Sohae launch base (northeast of the country) surrounded by technicians from the North Korean space program and important figures within the ballistic missile program, according to photos published by KCNA.
Kim “observed aerospace photos of Anderson Air Force Base, Apra Port and other important military bases of US forces taken in the sky over Guam, in the Pacific”indicated the official North Korean news agency KCNAwhich stated that the photographs were received at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, “firmly condemned the launch”reported his spokesman, Farhan Haq.
“Any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology is contrary to Security Council resolutions”he added.
The space rocket was launched about an hour before the window that North Korea had notified maritime authorities that same day to restrict navigation in areas where debris could fall and that extended from the coast came into effect. past midnight (3:00 p.m. GMT on Tuesday) until December 1.
In addition to the unanimous condemnation of Seoul, Tokyo and Washingtonthe launch caused the activation of Japan’s national anti-missile system for a few minutes, through which a message was sent to the inhabitants of the Okinawa prefecture (southwest) recommending that they seek shelter.
Diplomatic representatives of the three countries recalled today that UN Security Council sanctions prohibit North Korea from carrying out space launches considering that it uses its own intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology.
Russia, under the magnifying glass
Seoul considers it possible that, to solve the technical problems experienced by the Chollima-1 in May and August, Pyongyang has received technical assistance from Moscow in exchange for sending it weapons for use in Ukraine.
The South Korean authorities have assured that The North Korean regime has sent to Russia some 2,000 containers of military equipment consisting of more than a million rounds of artillery and possibly also ammunition for tanks, anti-tank guided missiles or portable surface-to-air missiles. and they even claim that short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) have been transported by train or plane.
It is believed that this exchange agreement was endorsed at the summit held in September between the North Korean leader and the president. Vladimir Putin at the Russian Vostochny Cosmodrome, where Kim showed great interest by visiting a launch pad and assembly building for Angara rockets.
A South Korean military source said this week that even before the summit, Russia transferred a liquid fuel engine weighing about 80 tons to North Korea and that apparently Russian engineers visited the secretive Asian country after the September meeting.
South Korean response
In response to the launch, the South Korean Government today approved partially suspending the military agreement it signed in 2018 with North Korea, as it had warned in recent days.
The Executive, remembering that the regime has violated the agreement several times in recent years, thus decided to restart South Korean surveillance and reconnaissance operations along the border with its neighbor, with which it is technically still at war.
The 2018 agreement reflected the brief rapprochement that both Koreas experienced five years ago and was an important step to reduce military tension on the border.
However, after the failure of denuclearization negotiations with Washington in 2019, Pyongyang approved a weapons modernization plan – which includes deploying military satellites and has involved carrying out countless missile tests – in addition to rejecting the restart of dialogue and seeking a greater rapprochement with Beijing and Moscow.
Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington have reinforced military cooperation with Tokyo and strengthened their deterrence mechanism by increasingly deploying US strategic assets to the peninsula, as is the case of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, which arrived yesterday with its group of attack on Busan (southeast of Seoul).
(With information from EFE and AFP)