North Korea begins reconnaissance satellite operations – KCNA
SEOUL — North Korea’s reconnaissance satellite operation office began its mission as a military intelligence organization, state news agency KCNA said Sunday.
The office, organized at the Pyongyang General Control Centre of the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA), started to discharge its mission on Saturday and will report acquired information to the reconnaissance bureau at the army and other major units, KCNA said.
North Korea says it successfully launched its first military spy satellite on November 21, transmitting photos of the White House, the Pentagon, US military bases, and “target regions” in South Korea.
Pyongyang has not released any imagery from the satellite so far, leaving analysts and foreign governments to debate how capable the new satellite actually is.
In a separate article carried by KCNA on Sunday, an unidentified North Korean military commentator said the South is blamed for the breakdown of their military confidence-building agreement, justifying its spy satellite launch as what other countries also do.
The article also argued that South Korea’s own, first military reconnaissance launch this month proved to be self-contradictory.
On Friday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried South Korea’s first spy satellite into orbit from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base. South Korea has contracted with the American company to launch a total of five spy satellites by 2025 in an effort to accelerate its goal of having 24-hour watch over the Korean peninsula.
North Korea said last month it would deploy stronger armed forces and new weapons on its border with the South, after Seoul suspended part of a 2018 military accord between the two Koreas in a protest over Pyongyang’s launch of the spy satellite.
North Korea also said Saturday that it would consider any interference with its satellite operations a declaration of war and would mobilize its war deterrence if any attack against its strategic assets were imminent.
Pyongyang would respond to any US interference in space by eliminating the viability of US spy satellites, state media KCNA reported, citing a statement from North Korea’s defense ministry spokesperson.
“In case the US tries to violate the legitimate territory of a sovereign state by weaponizing the latest technologies illegally and unjustly, the DPRK will consider taking responsive action measures for self-defense to undermine or destroy the viability of the US spy satellites,” the statement said.
DPRK are the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.