North Korea will launch its first military satellite to spy on the U.S. and its allies in June, state media outlet KCNA reported on Tuesday, citing a top North Korean defense official.
Recent U.S.-South Korea military exercises aimed at “annihilating” a belligerent adversary, in addition to deepening U.S. security cooperation agreements with Pacific nations, troop deployments and “hostile” U.S. spying, requires North Korea to develop stronger reconnaissance capabilities, Ri Pyong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, said in a statement carried by KCNA. The planned satellite launch — the first of its kind — is intended to assist Pyongyang in tracking and responding to “dangerous military acts of the U.S. and its vassal forces,” he added.
“Under the present situation brought by the reckless military acts by the U.S. and South Korea, we steadily feel the need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons and have the timetables for carrying out their development plans,” Ri said.
The U.S. and South Korea began joint military exercises on May 25 involving the largest live-fire drills in the history of military relations between the two countries, Reuters reported. Exercises were intended to simulate a “full-scale” North Korean attack on its neighbor to the south and demonstrate their ability to mount an “overwhelming” defense against northern hostility.
Ri condemned the drills as “reckless ambition for aggression,” Reuters reported.
Ri did not specify a date for the launch, but North Korea notified Japan of a planned launch between May 31 and June 11, according to Reuters. Tokyo placed air defense forces on alert ahead of the launch, promising to down any airborne object that enters its airspace.
Seoul and Tokyo slammed Pyongyang’s planned use of ballistic missile technology in deploying the spy satellite as a violation of United Nations sanctions, Reuters reported.
“Even if North Korea might call it a ‘satellite’, this is a violation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit North Korea from all launches using the ballistic missile technology,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
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