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Seoul, May 30 – North Korea on Tuesday said it will launch its first military spy satellite in June in a bid to monitor “dangerous military activity” by the US and South Korea in real time.
The North disclosed the timing of its planned launch through state media, a day after it notified Japan of its plan to launch a satellite between May 31 and June 11, reports Yonhap News Agency.
In a statement carried by Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Ri Pyong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea, said the North’s satellite reconnaissance is an “indispensable” act to bolster its self-defence capabilities against the enemies’ “reckless military exercises”.
The North’s spy satellite to be launched in June and various reconnaissance means to be newly tested are “indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts” of the US and South Korea, Ri said in the statement.
He also vowed to “expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons and have the timetables for carrying out their development plans”, without elaborating on details.
Earlier this month, North Korea announced the completion of preparations to mount its first military spy satellite on a rocket, with leader Kim Jong-un approving the “future action plan”.
A military reconnaissance satellite is among the high-tech weapons systems that the North’s leader vowed to develop at a key party congress in 2021, along with a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a nuclear-powered submarine.
South Korea “strongly” warned against North Korea’s planned satellite launch on Monday, vowing to make Pyongyang pay “due prices” if it goes ahead with the launch.
The North’s proposed satellite launch would violate a series of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions banning its nuclear and missile programs, as it uses the same technology used in ballistic missiles.
In December last year, the North conducted an “important, final-stage” test for the development of a spy satellite and released black-and-white photos of South Korean cities that were shot by its “test satellite” from space.
The North last launched the “Kwangmyongsong-4”, an Earth-observation satellite, in February 2016, claiming it has the right to develop “peaceful” space programs.
In April, North Korea fired a solid-fuel ICBM for the first time, after launching more than 70 ballistic missiles last year alone, the most in a single year.