South Korea’s military recently announced that North Korea has potentially launched a rocket associated with a military spy satellite. The development has spurred discussions about the global security implications of such a move.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff shared the news but have yet to release any additional flight details. Immediately after the launch, officials in Seoul issued evacuation warnings via public speakers and smartphones, however, no immediate damages or disruptions have been reported.
Earlier, Japan’s coast guard reported that North Korea had disclosed plans of a satellite launch between May 31 and June 11. A move that, if executed, blatantly violates UN Security Council resolutions, as it bans North Korea from using ballistic technology – a cover often used for missile tests.
Ri Pyong Chol, a high-ranking North Korean official and confidante of Kim Jong Un, claimed the satellite launch was necessitated by the increasing security threats from the US and its allies.
The capabilities of a North Korean spy satellite remain unclear. While the state-run media’s satellite may not produce high-resolution imagery, experts suggest it could still detect large targets such as warships and troop movements.
Recent commercial satellite images indicate active construction at the North’s main rocket launch centre, hinting at plans to launch multiple satellites. Ri also mentioned that the country would be testing “various reconnaissance means”.
With several spy satellites, North Korea could establish a space-based surveillance system, allowing near real-time monitoring of the Korean Peninsula, suggests Lee Choon Geun, a research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.
These developments occur amidst Kim’s push for modernizing the country’s weaponry and the stagnant denuclearisation talks with the US since early 2019. Experts speculate that expanding his nuclear and missile arsenals could be Kim’s strategy to pressure Washington and Seoul for concessions.
Since the start of 2022, North Korea has executed over 100 missile tests, some involving nuclear-capable weapons aimed at the US, South Korea, and Japan. These activities, claimed as self-defence measures, are seen as responses to the expanded military drills between the US and Seoul, which North Korea views as invasion rehearsals.
The news is based on a malaymail.com article.