In a recent development, top officials from North Korea have pledged to make a second attempt at launching a spy satellite, following the failure of their initial launch last month. Describing the failed launch as the most serious shortcoming of the year, North Korean officials expressed their disappointment and strongly criticized those responsible for the unsuccessful mission. The leaders convened at a three-day ruling party meeting, which concluded on Sunday, where the failed launch and efforts to modernize the country’s weapons arsenals were extensively discussed.
The Bitter Criticism of Irresponsible Officials
While the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not explicitly mention the names of the speakers, a report presented during the meeting “bitterly criticized the officials who irresponsibly conducted the preparations for the satellite launch.” The report emphasized the need for officials and scientists to learn from the failed launch, identify the causes of the rocket’s crash, and strive for a successful launch within a short period of time.
The Timing of the Second Launch
The KCNA report did not provide a specific timeframe for the second launch attempt. However, according to South Korea’s spy agency, it is expected to take “more than several weeks” for North Korea to determine the cause of the failed launch and rectify the issues before attempting another launch. Consequently, North Korean monitoring groups have not reported any purges or dismissals of scientists or other individuals involved in the failed mission.
North Korea’s Ambitious Goals
The acquisition of a spy satellite is just one part of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s ambition to enhance the country’s military capabilities to counter what he perceives as U.S.-led hostility. In addition to a spy satellite, Kim aims to possess a multi-warhead missile, a nuclear submarine, a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile, and a hypersonic missile.
Over the past year, North Korea has conducted more than 100 missile tests, several of which were connected to the development of a spy satellite and other advanced weapons systems. Notably, in April, North Korea successfully tested a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which provides greater mobility and makes detection more challenging compared to liquid propellant rockets.
Also Read : Mercenary Wagner Group’s Rebellion in Russia
Security Concerns and Countermeasures
During the ruling party meeting, members of the Politburo expressed satisfaction with the progress made in expanding North Korea’s arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles. They emphasized the importance of maintaining a “frontal confrontation” against enemies, particularly in light of the “extremely deteriorating security situation” caused by the “reckless war moves” of their rivals. These comments likely referred to the expanded military drills conducted by the United States and South Korea. In response, the North Korean officials unanimously approved undisclosed plans for counteraction.
Efforts to Strengthen International Ties
While North Korea faces mounting pressure from the international community, it has sought to strengthen its alliances with Russia and China. North Korea blames the United States for the crisis in Ukraine and supports Russia’s military actions in the region. Additionally, it has been working to enhance its relationship with China, which serves as its primary ally and economic lifeline. Both Russia and China, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have consistently vetoed attempts by the U.S. and others to impose stricter sanctions on North Korea.
Focus on Economic Improvement
The party meeting also addressed North Korea’s struggling economy, which has been further strained by the impact of the pandemic and subsequent border closures. KCNA reported some progress in efforts to boost agricultural output and revive the metal and chemical industries, while acknowledging unspecified shortcomings. Notably, progress was cited in the construction sector, with a project underway to construct tens of thousands of new homes in Pyongyang, the capital city.
Assessing the Claims
Given North Korea’s secretive nature, it is virtually impossible to independently verify the claims made by the country’s leadership. However, experts note that despite the hardships caused by the pandemic, there are no signs of social unrest or famine within North Korea. Kim Jong Un’s absolute control over the population of 26 million remains unchanged.
North Korean officials have expressed their determination to make a second attempt at launching a spy satellite, aiming to bolster the country’s surveillance capabilities. The failed launch was regarded as a significant setback, prompting a critical analysis of the responsible individuals. While the specific timing of the second launch is uncertain, North Korea’s commitment to enhancing its military capabilities remains steadfast.
The country’s leaders also discussed the deteriorating security situation in the region, strengthened ties with Russia and China, and addressed efforts to improve the struggling economy. However, given the secrecy surrounding North Korea, verifying the claims made remains challenging, and Kim Jong Un’s authority over the country appears to be unchanged.