North Korea plans to launch three more spy satellites in 2024 after earlier success

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North Korea said it aims to launch three more spy satellites next year and will reconsider reconciliation plans with South Korea as relations between the two deteriorate.

North Korea should “no longer make the mistake of considering South Korea as a counterpart for reunification because Seoul has declared Pyongyang a “main enemy,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday, citing leader Kim Jong Un.

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It’s time to change and reset the reunification policy and its relationship with the South, Kim added as he finished presiding over a major political meeting to set policy for the new year.

North Korea has called current conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol “a puppet traitor” and threatened to turn the Pacific Ocean into a firing range in response to greater military cooperation among the US, South Korea, and Japan.

South Korea’s spy agency said last week it sees North Korea launching military and cyber provocations next year as Kim’s regime seeks to raise its profile during election campaigns in the US and South Korea. North Korea has a habit of conducting tests of ballistic missiles and nuclear devices to coincide with elections, as it rails against conservative politicians who take a tough stance on Pyongyang.

The goal to place more spy satellites comes after the “experience of successfully launching and operating the first spy satellite in 2023 in the space development sector,” Kim was quoted as saying by KCNA. He made the remarks as his ruling Workers’ Party of Korea wrapped up a plenary meeting of its Central Committee on December 30, KCNA said.

After two failures this year, North Korea was able to place a spy satellite in orbit on a third try in November, giving its military eyes in the sky to monitor the movements of the US troops who’ve been stationed in South Korea since the Korean War as well as allied forces in the region.

Kim is arguably at the peak of his powers since taking office about a dozen years ago. Arms transfers to Russia in recent months have likely boosted his sanctions-hit economy, providing enough backing for him to continue avoiding disarmament-for-aid talks with the US.

Satellite imagery shows a steady flow of trade in recent months between the North Korean port of Najin and the Russian Far East port of Dunay. The US and South Korea have accused Kim’s regime of sending hundreds of thousand of rounds of munitions to Russia to help Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. Pyongyang and Moscow have denied the accusations.

Kim has also tested more than 100 ballistic missiles over the past two years, increasing his ability to deliver a nuclear strike on the US and America’s allies in the region. His weapons program has made significant gains that included a test this month of a new missile designed to deliver a warhead to the US mainland and the apparent commissioning of a long-stalled nuclear reactor that could significantly add to plutonium production.

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