Has A North Korean Spy Satellite Made It Into Orbit? It Could Be A Big Deal
North Korea on Wednesday said it had put its first spy satellite into orbit. The satellite, named “Malligyong-1” was launched late Tuesday on a new carrier rocket, “Chollima-1”, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Analysts said if the spacecraft works, it could significantly improve the regime’s military capabilities. The satellite can “assist them in military targeting, it can assist them in damage assessment,” said Ankit Panda from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Why Pyongyang Likely Has More To Lose Than Gain
North Korea has promised additional launches to address its “enemies’ dangerous military maneuvers”. But neither the South, Japan nor the US, all of which are experiencing increasing military tensions with Pyongyang, could confirm the satellite had made it into orbit.
On Wednesday morning, the Government of South Korea partially suspended a deal it had with the North that restricted the South’s reconnaissance and surveillance activities along the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates the two countries.
Other analysts cautioned the North Korean spy satellite’s real capabilities remain to be seen. Some suggested the regime had more to lose from Seoul’s resumption of intelligence gathering along the border than it had to gain from Tuesday’s launch.
North Korea’s Third Spy Satellite Launch Attempt
Pyongyang’s first satellite launch attempt in May resulted in a failure as the second stage of the rocket malfunctioned. A second attempt failed in August when there was “an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight,” KCNA had reported.
At the time, North Korean Ambassador Kim Song insisted pursuing the programme was within the country’s “legitimate right as a sovereign state.” He denied that North Korea had been seeking to acquire Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) technology through the launch.