North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has inspected the country’s first military spy satellite, giving the go-ahead for what state media described as a “future action plan”.
Kim met the committee leading the satellite’s development on Tuesday before viewing the satellite, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
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Kim said the successful launch of the military reconnaissance satellite was an “urgent requirement of the prevailing security environment of the country,” according to the report.
KCNA did not provide any details on when the launch might take place.
The North Korean leader gave the green light last month when it was announced that construction of the satellite had been completed.
That announcement came about a week after Pyongyang tested what it said was a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, marking a significant breakthrough for its banned weapons programmes.
Analysts have said there is significant technological overlap between the development of ICBMs and space launch capabilities.
On Tuesday, “after acquainting himself in detail with the work of the committee, [Kim] inspected the military reconnaissance satellite No 1, which is ready for loading after undergoing the final general assembly check and space environment test”, KCNA said.
A military reconnaissance satellite was one of the key defence projects Kim outlined in a 2021 plan to modernise and advance the country’s military prowess.
In December 2022, North Korea said it had carried out an “important final-stage test” for the development of a spy satellite, which it said it would complete by April this year.
At the time, experts in South Korea quickly raised doubts about the results, saying the quality of black-and-white images released by North Korea — purportedly taken from a satellite — was poor.
38 North, a US-based North Korea monitoring project, said earlier this week that satellite imagery suggested activity at the launch pad area of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station had resumed after a break of nearly six months.
But it added that much more work needed to be done in order for the site to handle a satellite launch.
The United States and South Korea have stepped up security cooperation amid the expansion of North Korea’s weapons programme, organising joint military exercises with advanced stealth jets and bombers.
North Korea views such exercises as rehearsals for invasion and says its own weapons programme is necessary for its defence.