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North Korea confirms new spy satellite tests

North Korea claims to have carried out data transmissions and other key tests needed to develop a spy satellite

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has carried out data transmission and other key tests needed to develop a spy satellite, state media said Sunday, in the second such test in about a week. indicating that the country intends to conduct a banned long-range rocket launch. soon.

The moves come as North Korea carries out a series of ballistic missile launches – including one detected by its neighbors on Saturday – in what experts call an attempt to add new weapons systems to its arsenal and to make pressure on the United States to make concessions in a deadlock. diplomacy.

On Sunday, North Korea’s Central News Agency said it had carried out “another important test” the day before as part of its project to develop a reconnaissance satellite. He said authorities had tested the satellite’s data transmission, reception and ground control systems.

The KCNA dispatch did not directly mention any missile or rocket launches to carry out such satellite-related tests, but it apparently referred to the ninth round of missile launches from the North this year, which Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have announced. spotted on Saturday.

Outside experts believe North Korea fired a ballistic missile carrying a camera to perform the tests described in the KCNA report. Last Monday, North Korea said it tested a camera designed to be placed on a reconnaissance satellite and released space photos of Earth, a day after rivals said it had launched a ballistic missile.

A spy satellite is part of a long wish list of new weapons systems that Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to introduce to deal with what he calls U.S. hostility. To operate a reconnaissance satellite, North Korea must launch a long-range rocket into orbit. But the UN prohibits such a launch by North Korea because it sees it as a cover to test its long-range missile technology.

It is unclear whether North Korea has developed a camera capable enough to be installed on a spy satellite, as the satellite photos the country released last Monday did not include high-resolution images.

After Saturday’s test, North Korea did not immediately release new satellite photos, suggesting the country failed to photograph higher-resolution images than previous ones, said analyst Cheong Seong- Chang from the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.

“While it may pull off what it calls a ‘reconnaissance satellite launch,’ it would still take a very long time for North Korea to obtain militarily significant reconnaissance technology due to powerful international sanctions restricting its import of satellites. ‘high-tech equipment and its poor civilian technology,’ Cheong said.

North Korea orbited its first and second Earth observation satellites in 2012 and 2016, but some foreign experts say neither transmitted images to North Korea.

These satellite launches are still believed to have contributed to North Korea’s missile development program. In 2017, North Korea conducted three intercontinental ballistic missile tests that analysts say demonstrated its potential ability to launch nuclear strikes on US territory.

Experts say North Korea will likely conduct a spy satellite launch ahead of a major political anniversary in April, the 110th birthday of state founder Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s late grandfather.

Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington remained largely stalled for about three years over disputes over US sanctions against North Korea. Earlier this year, North Korea tested a variety of sophisticated nuclear-capable missiles, including one that analysts say puts the US territory of Guam in the Pacific within its striking range.

ABC News

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