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N. Korea forewarns launching reconnaissance satellite toward S. Korea

N. Korea forewarns launching reconnaissance satellite toward S. Korea

Posted April. 20, 2023 08:07,   

Updated April. 20, 2023 08:07


North Korean media reported on Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the National Aerospace Development Administration and ordered launching the military reconnaissance satellite No. 1 as planned. It was reported that the manufacturing of the reconnaissance satellite was completed as of April, but its planned launch date was not specified. Kim said launching reconnaissance satellites is a preliminary and essential task that cannot be given up, missed, or reversed, adding that several satellites will be deployed in a series.

The actual timing of the reconnaissance satellite’s launch is unknown as Kim simply mentioned the ‘planned date.’ However, the intention to forewarn its launch before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to the U.S. in the coming week to raise tensions across the Korean Peninsula seems clear. The North announced in December last year that it would complete the preparation of the reconnaissance satellite No. 1 by April 2023. While its preparation might have been completed, there can be some time before its actual launch as Kim mentioned ‘final preparation, such as setting up a temporary preparation committee.’

While the satellite’s performance is yet to be known, its launch is clearly meant as a provocative threat for multiple purposes that cause comprehensive tensions, beyond the military threats of ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads. Kim explicitly said that the satellite was to identify the enemies’ movements at any time and use preemptive military power. This means that while North Korea’s aerial power is clearly inferior, it will operate multiple reconnaissance satellites to monitor the movements of South Korea and the U.S. military in the Korean Peninsula and identify targets for nuclear attacks.

In particular, as the satellite is likely to be launched toward the south, not east, it can put the Korean Peninsula and its neighborhoods in high tension. The North will launch the satellite to the east of the Philippines along the west coast of South Korea and through Okinawa, to which the United States Forces Japan is deployed, to feel out South Korea and the U.S’s tracking and interception capabilities, as it did with the launch of Kwangmyongsong-4 in 2016. Furthermore, it may use the ‘right to explore space’ and announce a plan to launch the satellite to international organizations to see how the international community reacts.

Such bold provocations by North Korea will bring a more rigorous response from South Korea and the U.S. President Yoon announced plans to strengthen surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence capabilities against North Korea and develop high-performance high-powered weapons during an interview with the foreign press. In addition, South Korea and the U.S.’s joint response system that goes beyond the Nuclear Planning Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will be discussed at the upcoming summit between the two countries. Regardless of the severity of North Korea’s provocations, there is nothing to fear as long as the two countries have a strong alliance system and ongoing posture for immediate response in place.