North Korea said it conducted a test of subsystems for a planned reconnaissance satellite on Sunday, raising concerns the state was hinting at a larger long-range missile test.
North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Monday that “the important test…confirmed the characteristics of the high-resolution camera system.” [to be loaded onto the satellite]data transmission system and attitude control devices and the accuracy of their performance.” The test was “of great significance,” he said, overseen by the National Aerospace Development Administration and the North Korean Academy of Defense Sciences.
Two images released with the statement showed a wide view of the Korean Peninsula from orbital space, compared to a high-resolution capture zoomed in by a satellite camera.
“The most important feature for a spy satellite is its camera,” notes Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “The other is the launch mechanism.”
The South Korean and Japanese militaries had said Sunday morning’s projectile launch, North Korea’s eighth test this year and the first since the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics, was likely a ballistic missile. It recorded a flight range of 300 kilometers and a maximum altitude of 620 kilometers, Seoul said, as it was fired from the Sunan airport area to land in the seas off the east coast of the peninsula. Korean.
The technology behind a satellite delivery rocket and a long range missile are very similar. Some analysts in Seoul see KCNA’s statement as a veiled warning that North Korea would test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), an understood red line that has been bypassed since 2017 under a self-imposed moratorium on weapons testing. nuclear.
“It’s a semblance of their true intent and motivation to launch an ICBM, a step in that direction,” Park told VOA. “It can have the effect of putting pressure on the United States and sending the message, ‘If they don’t stop us, we’ll take the next step.'”
The last time North Korea launched a satellite in February 2016, it was condemned by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a test of a long-range missile.
Appeal to the United States and the global community
At a meeting of senior South Korean military officials on Monday, Defense Minister Suh Wook called North Korea’s latest test an expression of its “strength for strength” stance, reflecting its desire to to rekindle international interest as the crisis in Ukraine unfolds. He ordered all branches of the military to be ready for further missile tests from North Korea.
US Special Envoy for North Korea Sung Kim, after Sunday’s test, spoke by phone with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to reaffirm their ironclad alliance and common goal of complete denuclearization of the peninsula. Korean.
The US State Department said Kim “condemned the launch, which violated several UN Security Council resolutions and posed a serious threat to regional stability”, while reiterating his willingness to engage in a ” serious and sustained diplomacy” with North Korea.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Sunday called the act “absolutely unforgivable” if it was deliberately aimed to take advantage of a situation where the world is fascinated by the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .
Nabila Massrali, the European Union’s spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy, said on Twitter on Sunday evening: “Another DPRK missile launch today is a challenge to peace and security. The DPRK must cease its destabilizing actions.”
DPRK is an acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.