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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Kim Jong-un inspects military spy satellite facility: state media

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, center, inspects the country's first military reconnaissance satellite on Tuesday. [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, center, inspects the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite on Tuesday. [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made an on-site inspection of the overall status of the country’s first military spy satellite and approved its “future action plan,” Pyongyang’s state media said Wednesday.

Kim visited the Non-permanent Satellite Launch Preparatory Committee on Tuesday, and “after acquainting himself in detail with the work of the committee, he inspected the military reconnaissance satellite No. 1 which is ready for loading after undergoing the final general assembly check and space environment test,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English-language dispatch.

Kim stressed that the satellite’s successful launch is an “urgent requirement” under the prevailing security environment and a process of “bolstering up the defense capabilities on a top priority basis.”

He also said “the more desperately the U.S. imperialists and South Korean puppet villains” escalate their confrontational moves against the North, “the more fairly, squarely and offensively” it will exercise its right to self-defense to deter them.

KCNA added that the satellite is ready to load on a rocket but did not provide further details on the “future action plan,” including the exact date of the launch.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, inspects the country's first military satellite with his daughter Kim Ju-ae on Tuesday. [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, inspects the country’s first military satellite with his daughter Kim Ju-ae on Tuesday. [KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY]

Experts say the North is likely to calibrate the ideal timing of the satellite launch, considering climate conditions and major political events.

“As the next step, North Korea will mount the satellite inside the pairings at the top end of the projectile,” Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said. “The launch seems likely as early as June, depending on the readiness of the delivery vehicle.”

The KCNA also released photos of Kim’s daughter Ju-ae in a lab coat and a head cap accompanying the inspection.

The latest inspection marks Kim’s first public activity since his on-site visit to the North’s space development agency on April 18, when he announced that the North has completed building its first military spy satellite.

The development of spy satellites was one of the key weapons projects announced by Kim during a ruling party meeting in January 2021.

BY SOHN DONG-JOO, YONHAP [sohn.dongjoo@joongang.co.kr]