North Korea Spy Satellite Mission Set To Soar After Recent Launch Mishap
North Korea's pursuit of military surveillance capabilities suffered a setback on Wednesday as the country's first spy satellite launch ended in failure, with the rocket plunging into the sea. However, undeterred by the unsuccessful attempt, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful ruling party official and sister of leader Kim Jong Un, vowed that North Korea spy satellite mission set to soar after recent launch mishap.
Kim Yo Jong rejected the condemnation of the launch by Washington and other countries, asserting that it was within North Korea's sovereign right to develop its space program. She stated:
Following the failed launch, South Korea detected debris that fell off its west coast and launched a salvage operation to study the new rocket. Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup informed parliament that the salvaged part appeared to be the second stage of the rocket, and efforts were underway to find additional debris, including the third stage and the payload.
North Korea's first spy satellite launch fails
However, it remains unclear when North Korea will attempt another launch, as resolving the technical issues that led to the failure may take weeks or even longer, according to South Korean intelligence sources.
In an uncommon admission of the setback, KCNA promptly reported the failure, announcing that the Chollima-1 rocket, carrying the "Malligyong-1" military reconnaissance satellite, crashed into the sea due to a second stage engine failure.
KCNA also released images of the rocket lifting off from a coastal launch pad, confirming that it was a new design. Ankit Panda, an expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noted that the launch utilized the new coastal launch pad at Tongchang-ri, suggesting the potential for future launches using the traditional gantry.
Commercial satellite imagery analyzed by U.S.-based monitors, including 38 North and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, revealed significant activity at the main launch pad after the failed attempt. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded that the rocket was likely launched from a new pad, based on North Korea's state media photos.
The failed launch drew criticism from various countries, including South Korea, Japan, and the United States. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, while in Tokyo, expressed concern over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, stating that they pose a threat to regional peace and stability.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesperson affirmed that any launch using ballistic missile technology by Pyongyang would breach Security Council resolutions.
In response to the criticism, Kim Yo Jong dismissed the claims as "self-contradiction," pointing out that other countries, including the United States, have launched thousands of satellites. She criticized the United States, labeling it a "group of gangsters" who would deem any satellite launch by North Korea as illegal and threatening.
South Korea's foreign ministry countered Kim's claims, stating that they were based on "distorted" views that defy the United Nations' aspirations for regional peace.
Meanwhile, North Korea's vice foreign minister, Kim Son Gyong, voiced criticism of the U.S.-led military drills in the region, particularly a multinational anti-proliferation naval drill. The minister's statement reflects North Korea's ongoing displeasure with such military exercises, which it considers provocative.
Despite the setback, North Korea remains determined to enhance its military surveillance capabilities through its space program. As the international community closely monitors North Korea's future launch plans, it remains to be seen how the country will address the technical challenges encountered in its quest to put a spy satellite into orbit.