(RightWing.org) – North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has been attracting attention for years as the rogue state repeatedly stages provocative tests. However, the regime has now announced another equally ambitious project about which it’s being less boastful. It seems Kim Jong-un now wants to develop his own space program.
— US Burning (@UsBurning) April 28, 2023
On April 27, North Korea’s state-run media reported that the dictator Kim Jong-un had visited his space development agency. Journalists then interviewed three regime members — two vice ministers for telecommunications and the environment and a senior official from the weather agency. The officials all discussed building satellites and claimed that creating a North Korean space industry is “indispensable… for national development and the improvement of the people’s lives.”
North Korea’s space ambitions go back to at least the 1980s when the Korean Committee of Space Technology (KCST) was set up and started talking about launching communications satellites. Since 1998 the KCST and its successor, the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA), have launched five satellites; the first three either blew up or failed to reach orbit and crashed in the sea, but “observation satellites” were successfully launched in 2012 and 2016. North Korea says they were used to collect weather data and information on crops and forest cover, but as they were equipped with cameras, it’s likely they could also provide some military information.
Now Pyongyang officials and, apparently, Kim himself, are discussing more advanced satellite launches. His ministers and officials are talking about “application satellites” to help with land management and emergency responses — but Kim apparently boasted last month that the country is now able to put military spy satellites into orbit, and state media says he’s recently ordered NADA to prepare to launch one.
North Korea is prone to boasting about technology it hasn’t quite yet mastered, but NADA — which is believed to be linked to the country’s strategic missile forces — has shown that it’s able to put a satellite into orbit. If it can manage this with a proper spy satellite capable of taking high-resolution images of the US, it could be a serious risk to our national security. Worse, the rocket technology needed to put a satellite in orbit can also carry a nuclear weapon; many US and Russian space launches have used converted ICBMs, and a converted satellite launch vehicle could just as easily become a weapon.
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