North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reviewed photographs of major US military bases in Guam, received from the country’s first spy satellite in orbit, state media said Wednesday.
Kim “watched the aerospace photos of Anderson Air Force Base, Apra Harbor and other major military bases of the US forces taken in the sky above Guam in the Pacific, which were received at 9:21 a.m. on Nov. 22”, state-run news agency KCNA said, having earlier announced the purportedly successful launch of the North’s “Malligyong-1” spy satellite.
A rocket carrying the satellite blasted off Tuesday night from North Phyongan province and “accurately put the reconnaissance satellite ‘Malligyong-1’ on its orbit,” KCNA reported.
Images in state media showed Kim Jong Un smiling and waving, surrounded by white-uniformed scientists and engineers who cheered and clapped after watching the successful blastoff.
The United States led condemnation of the launch, saying it was a “brazen violation” of UN sanctions and could destabilise the region, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also slamming the launch.
South Korea reacted by partially suspending a 2018 military deal aimed at reducing military tensions, saying it would resume surveillance operations along the border with North Korea.
As North Korea stopped responding to military-to-military communication lines earlier this year, Seoul’s “defence ministry will just announce it,” rather than notifying Pyongyang directly, a government spokesperson told AFP.
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.