US slams North Korea after spy satellite launch success
North Phyongan, North Korea – North Korea said it has succeeded in putting a military spy satellite in orbit after two previous failures, as the US led its allies in condemning the launch as a "brazen violation" of UN sanctions.
A rocket carrying the satellite blasted off Tuesday night local time from North Phyongan province, flew along its designated path and "accurately put the reconnaissance satellite 'Malligyong-1' on its orbit," state-run news agency KCNA reported.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was on hand to witness the blast off, and congratulated the scientists and technicians behind the mission, it added.
The US quickly led condemnation of the launch as a "brazen violation" of UN sanctions and said it could destabilize the region.
North Korea's previous efforts to put a spy satellite into orbit in May and August both failed. Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington had repeatedly warned Pyongyang not to proceed with another launch, which would violate successive rounds of UN resolutions.
Space launch rockets and ballistic missiles have significant technological overlap, experts say, but different payloads, and Pyongyang is barred by UN resolutions from any tests involving ballistic technology.
Will North Korea launch more spy sattelites?
KCNA said after this mission that "the launch of reconnaissance satellite is a legitimate right of the DPRK for strengthening its self-defensive capabilities" as the country confronts what it calls threats from South Korea and the United States. DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is the official name for North Korea.
North Korea will launch more satellites soon to step up its surveillance capability on South Korea, the Yonhap news agency said, apparently quoting the Korean-language version of KCNA.
"Even if they call it a satellite, the launch of an item that uses ballistic missile technology is clearly a violation of the relevant United Nations resolutions," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, adding he condemned the launch "in the strongest possible terms".
Successfully putting a spy satellite into orbit would improve North Korea's intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict, experts say.
North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year.
Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo have ramped up their defense cooperation in response, and on Tuesday a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, arrived at South Korea's Busan Naval Base.
Cover photo: ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP