North Korean leader Kim Jong Un asserted that the recent launch of a spy satellite was an exercise of the country’s right to self-defense. Kim celebrated the achievement, emphasising that it demonstrated North Korea’s capability to strike anywhere globally. The launch has drawn international criticism, as it violates UN resolutions prohibiting the country’s use of technology applicable to ballistic missile programs.
Kim visited the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA) to commend space scientists and technicians for their efforts. He characterised Tuesday’s launch as an “eye-opening event” in response to what he described as the “dangerous and aggressive” moves of hostile forces. According to the KCNA news agency, Kim highlighted that possessing a reconnaissance satellite is a legitimate exercise of the right to self-defense, emphasising that the armed forces cannot concede or pause.
A celebratory reception took place in North Korea to mark the satellite launch, with Premier Kim Tok Hun stating that the satellite would enhance the North Korean military into “the world’s best army with the capability to strike the whole world.” State media photographs depicted Kim’s family members, including his daughter wearing a T-shirt with NATA’s logo, participating in the celebration alongside rocket scientists and engineers.
This satellite launch, North Korea’s third attempt this year, follows Kim’s rare trip to Russia in September. During that visit, President Vladimir Putin pledged assistance to Pyongyang in building satellites. South Korean officials suggested that Russian technical assistance likely played a role in the latest launch, deepening a partnership where North Korea supplies Russia with artillery shells.
While Russia and North Korea deny engaging in arms deals, they have committed to increased cooperation. South Korea acknowledged that the North Korean satellite likely entered orbit, but it will take time to assess its normal operation status. The satellite launch adds to the ongoing tensions surrounding North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, prompting international concerns and calls for diplomatic resolutions.