SEOUL, June 1 (Reuters) – Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said her country would soon put a military spy satellite into orbit and Pyongyang promised to increase its military surveillance capabilities, state media KCNA reported on Thursday.
“It is certain that (North Korea’s) military spy satellite will be properly positioned in space orbit and begin its mission in the near future,” Kim, in his own right, said in KCNA’s English-language statement. .
His comments came after North Korea’s failed satellite launch on Wednesday.
A South Korean member of parliament said on Wednesday that it could take weeks or more to resolve the problems that caused the rocket failure.
In a rare acknowledgment of a North Korean backlash, KCNA announced that a Cholima-1 rocket carrying a military spy satellite called “Malligyong-1” fell into the sea after the crash.
KCNA released images of a new rocket lifting off from a coastal launch site on Thursday. The white and gray rocket had a bulbous nose, apparently for carrying satellites or other cargo.
Ankit Panda of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said the photos confirmed the rocket was a new design.
“The launch used the new coastal launch pad they built at Dongchang-ri, so we could see a large space launch vehicle using the traditional gantry that has seen some work recently,” he added.
US-based observers, including 38 North and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said commercial satellite images after Wednesday’s launch showed significant activity on the main pad.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said they could infer from North Korean state media photos that the rocket was launched from a new pad.
South Korea’s military said it has sent ships and planes to recover parts from the space missile.
Wednesday’s launch was widely criticized, including in South Korea, Japan and the United States.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that Pyongyang’s use of missile technology to launch is in violation of Security Council resolutions.
In his statement, Kim said criticism of the launch was “self-contradictory” as the US and other countries had already launched “thousands of satellites”.
“The US is a gang, even if they launch a satellite into the DPRK… it’s illegal and threatening,” he said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.
In a separate statement carried by KCNA, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Son Kyong criticized US-led military exercises in the region, including an international anti-proliferation naval exercise.
Reporting by Hyunsu Yim and Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Su-Hyang Choi; Editing by Chris Rees, Grant McCool and Jerry Doyle
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