SEOUL, April 19 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered officials to launch the first spy satellite as planned, saying that boosting reconnaissance capabilities is a priority to counter “threats” from the United States and South Korea, state media reported on Wednesday.
North Korea in December conducted what it called an important “final phase” test for a spy satellite and said it would complete preparations for the launch by April.
During a visit to the National Aerospace Development Administration on Tuesday, Kim urged deployment of the satellite as scheduled and ordered deploying multiple reconnaissance satellites on different orbits to bolster the country’s surveillance capabilities, state news agency KCNA said.
KCNA said the satellite production has been completed but it did not elaborate when the scheduled launch date is.
“Securing real-time information about the hostile forces’ military scenario” is the “most important” task, Kim said.
Kim denounced the deployment of U.S. strategic assets in the region as an attempt “to turn South Korea into an advanced base for aggression and an arsenal for war”.
“He (Kim) said that possession of such satellite is a primary task to be indispensably fulfilled to bolster up the armed forces of the DPRK … and belongs to its sovereignty and legitimate right to self-defence,” KCNA said, using the initials of the country’s official name.
A state media photo showed Kim, accompanied by his daughter, talking to officials in front of a blurred image of an apparent satellite.
Kim’s visit to the space agency comes just days after North Korea tested a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, a development experts say would facilitate missile launches with little warning.
“As the U.S. and South Korea are scheming to further tighten their military posture against the DPRK … it is quite natural for the DPRK to develop its military deterrence strong enough to cope with the serious security environment at present and in the future,” Kim said, according to KCNA.