North Korea Establishes Military Intelligence Organization for Spy Satellite Operations

Sun Dec 03 2023
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SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea has officially declared that the office overseeing its recently launched spy satellite will function as a military intelligence organization, according to state media reports on Sunday.

The successful deployment of a military spy satellite by Pyongyang last month raised concerns, as the regime claimed it could provide images of major U.S. and South Korean military installations. While North Korea has not yet released any of the claimed satellite imagery, it issued a warning on Saturday, stating that any attack on its space asset would be viewed as a “declaration of war.”

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Sunday that the newly established reconnaissance satellite operation office commenced its mission on December 2. It is designated to operate as “an independent military intelligence organization” and will relay acquired information to the reconnaissance bureau at the army and other significant units, as outlined by KCNA.

The report highlighted that North Korea’s defense ministry emphasized that its war deterrence would assume a “more perfect military posture” with the operationalization of this new intelligence-gathering capability.

North Korea is subject to multiple United Nations resolutions prohibiting tests involving ballistic technology. Analysts note a significant technological overlap between space launch capabilities and the development of ballistic missiles, raising concerns about the dual-use nature of North Korea’s satellite program.

Experts suggest that successfully placing a reconnaissance satellite into orbit would enhance North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over South Korea. In the event of a military conflict, the satellite could provide crucial data for strategic decision-making.

The recently launched satellite, named “Malligyong-1,” marked North Korea’s third attempt to place such a satellite in orbit, following two previous failures. South Korea has raised suspicions about Moscow providing technical assistance to North Korea in exchange for weapons used in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.

The establishment of a dedicated military intelligence organization for satellite operations underscores North Korea’s commitment to enhancing its capabilities in space-based intelligence gathering. This development raises regional and global security concerns, as it comes amid ongoing geopolitical tensions and North Korea’s pursuit of advanced military capabilities.

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