North Korea Completes ‘Important’ Test of Spy Satellite, Says State Media

North Korean state media on Monday reported that it had conducted an "important, final phase" test in the development of a military reconnaissance satellite. The country plans to have the satellite completed by April 2023.

North Korea Completes ‘Important’ Test of Spy Satellite, Says State Media
Image credit: News Agencies [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • North Korean state media on Monday reported that it had conducted an "important, final phase" test in the development of a military reconnaissance satellite. The country plans to have the satellite completed by April 2023.
  • This follows reports from South Korea and Japan that the North has launched two intermediate-range ballistic missiles toward its east coast. According to analysts, developing such a satellite would provide North Korea with cover for testing banned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), as they share similar technology.
  • Pyongyang's National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) reportedly conducted the launch via mock satellite, including a 20 meter resolution full-color camera, two multi-spectra cameras, image transmitters and receivers, a control device, and a storage battery that were fired at the "lofted angle" of 500 km (311 miles).
  • Pyongyang said it took photos of South Korean cities as part of its efforts to develop its first military spy satellite. Along with pictures of the launch, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) posted a pair of low-resolution, black-and-white images of Seoul and Incheon.
  • The resolution of the images released is not notably impressive for the purposes of military reconnaissance, but will likely be an ongoing development with more improvements over time, said Soo Kim, security analyst at the California-based RAND Corporation.
  • A photo analysis of Pyongyang's recent missile launch shows that they were likely a new type of liquid-fueled weapon, capable of being used for military purposes, as well as of sending a satellite into orbit.

Sources: Al Jazeera, France24, Reuters, Voa, ABC, and Associated Press.

Narratives

  • Pro-Trump narrative, as provided by Red State. You can’t blame Kim Jong-un for flexing North Korea’s military muscle when Biden is recklessly saber-rattling with Taiwan and China — how does he know the US won't also team up with South Korea for an invasion of the North? Trump's relationship with, and policies towards North Korea maintained stability in the Korean Peninsula.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by MSNBC. Kim Jong-Un's geopolitical actions have been erratic, and his missile launches are destabilizing the Peninsula. Instead of provoking a confrontation, the leader should take the Biden administration up on its offer to meet without preconditions, and settle any grievances peacefully. Biden is showing strength and prudence in the region.

Predictions