North Korea confirms test of spy satellite

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korea has carried out data transmissions and other key tests needed to develop a spy satellite, state media said Sunday, in its second such test. for about a week, indicating the country’s intention to conduct an early banned long-range missile launch.

The moves come as North Korea is carrying out multiple ballistic missile launches – including one detected by neighboring countries on Saturday – in what experts call an attempt to replenish systems new weapons to its arsenal and pressured the United States to make concessions amid stagnation. diplomatic.

On Sunday, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency said it had conducted “another important test” the day before it planned to develop a spy satellite. It said authorities had tested the satellite’s data transmission and reception systems and its ground-based control systems.

The KCNA dispatch does not directly mention any rocket launches or rockets to conduct such satellite-related tests, but it does appear to refer to North Korea’s ninth missile launch. this year that Seoul, Washington and Tokyo discovered on Saturday.

Outside experts believe North Korea fired a ballistic missile carrying a camera to carry out the tests described in the KCNA report. Last Monday, North Korea said it had tested a camera designed to be placed on a spy satellite and released pictures of Earth in space, a day after its rivals said they conduct a ballistic missile launch.

A spy satellite is on a long list of new weapons systems that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to introduce in response to what he calls US hostility. To operate a spy satellite, North Korea must launch a long-range rocket to put it into orbit. But the United Nations banned North Korea from launching such a missile, seeing it as a cover for testing its long-range missile technology.

It is not clear if North Korea has developed a camera capable of mounting on a spy satellite, as the satellite images it released last Monday do not include high-resolution images. .

After Saturday’s test, North Korea did not immediately release new satellite photos, suggesting it failed to take high-resolution images, said analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the Sejong Institute in South Korea. than the previous photos.

“Although they may succeed in what they call a ‘reconnaissance satellite launch,’ it is still likely that it will take a very long time for North Korea to acquire military-meaningful spying technology.” because of strong international sanctions restricting the import of high-tech equipment, and Cheong said.

North Korea put its first and second Earth observation satellites into orbit in 2012 and 2016, but some foreign experts say no one has transmitted any images of North Korea.

Those satellite launches are still believed to have contributed to North Korea’s missile development program. In 2017, North Korea conducted three tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that analysts say demonstrate the ability to launch nuclear strikes on the US homeland.

Experts say North Korea is likely to conduct a spy satellite launch ahead of a major political anniversary in April, the 110th birthday of state founder Kim Il-sung, the late grandfather’s grandfather. Kim Jong Un.

Diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington has largely remained stalled for about three years due to a dispute over US-led sanctions against North Korea. Earlier this year, North Korea test-fired a variety of complex nuclear-capable missiles, including one that analysts say puts the US Pacific territory of Guam within long range. .

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