North Korean leader Kim doubles down on satellite ambitions following failed launch

By AP News


North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un urged his military scientists to overcome a failed satellite launch and continue developing his nation's space-based reconnaissance capabilities

Japan Koreas Tensions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged his military scientists to overcome a failed satellite launch and continue developing space-based reconnaissance capabilities, which he described as crucial for countering U.S. and South Korean military activities, state media said Wednesday.

In a speech Tuesday, Kim also warned of unspecified “stern” action against South Korea over an exercise involving 20 fighter jets near the inter-Korean border hours before North Korea's failed launch on Monday. Kim called the South Korean response “hysterical insanity” and “a very dangerous provocation that cannot be ignored,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim visited the North’s Academy of Defense Sciences a day after a rocket carrying what would have been his country's second military reconnaissance satellite exploded shortly after liftoff. North Korea’s aerospace technology administration said the explosion was possibly related to the reliability of a newly developed rocket engine that was fueled by liquid oxygen and petroleum.

The failed launch was a setback to Kim’s plan to launch three more military spy satellites in 2024 after North Korea's first military reconnaissance satellite was placed in orbit last November. The November launch followed two failed attempts.

Monday’s launch drew criticism from South Korea, Japan and the United States, because the U.N. bans North Korea from conducting any such rocket launches, viewing them as covers for testing long-range missile technology.

North Korea has steadfastly maintained it has the right to launch satellites and test missiles in the face of what it perceives as U.S.-led military threats. Kim has described spy satellites as crucial for monitoring U.S. and South Korean military activities and enhancing the threat posed by his nuclear-capable missiles.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased in recent months as the pace of both Kim’s weapons demonstrations and the United States’ combined military exercises with South Korea and Japan have intensified in a cycle of tit-for-tat.

“The acquisition of military reconnaissance satellites is an essential task for our country to further strengthen our self-defense deterrence … in the face of serious changes to our nation’s security environment caused by U.S. military maneuvers and various provocative acts,” Kim said.

North Korea hasn't commented on when it would be ready to attempt a satellite launch again, which some experts say could take months.


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