After about a month of absence from the state media, Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, made his return by visiting the assembly plant of the alleged “future” military reconnaissance satellite. During this visit, he also approved the move to the next phase, which would involve putting the device into orbit. Although no specific date for the launch has been announced, this act would constitute a new violation of the sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Pyongyang, since both the launch of a satellite and that of a ballistic missile are based on the same technology.
According to state media reports, the North Korean leader inspected the country’s first spy satellite and gave his approval to the “future action plan” for its use. Kim met with the Non-Standing Preparatory Committee for Satellite Launch before observing the satellite, the official KCNA reported.
Kim Jong-un stated that the dispatch of a reconnaissance satellite had been set as a main goal for 2021 as a necessary response to the “confrontational maneuvers” of the United States and South Korea. According to the North Korean leader, the development of its first spy satellite would enable Pyongyang to exercise its right to self-defense.
As for this new stage of the North Korean space program, it is expected to enable the regime to obtain real-time images, both day and night, through the clouds. This would provide the regime with a valuable resource to strike military targets with greater precision. Although Kim Jong-un approved the “future action plan,” no specific date has been announced for putting the device into orbit.
Recent satellite images have revealed that work around the Sohae launch pad has resumed in recent weeks, after a six-month hiatus. It was at this site that the regime last launched a satellite in 2016, although at the time experts indicated that the device did not have the capability to send images to North Korea. Since then, Pyongyang’s ballistic and technological capabilities have improved markedly.
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