SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has concluded that Russian support likely allowed North Korea to put a spy satellite into orbit for the first time this week, and it will be clear in several days whether it is working properly, officials said on Thursday .
The launch has deepened regional hostilities, with the two Koreas threatening to violate an earlier reconciliation agreement and take hostile action along their heavily armed border.
NORTH KOREA’S SPY SATELLITE IS LATEST SURVEILLANCE THREAT TO US ALLIES – WITH KIM THREATENING MORE LAUNCHES
After two launch failures earlier this year, North Korea said it had successfully placed its “Malligyong-1” satellite into orbit on Tuesday night. South Korea’s military confirmed the satellite had entered orbit, but said it would take several more days to verify that it was working properly.
In a closed-door briefing, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Thursday that Russian help was likely the main reason the launch was successful, according to lawmakers who attended the meeting.
The National Intelligence Service cited Russian President Vladimir Putin’s earlier reference to a pledge to support North Korea’s satellite program. It also said it had received information that North Korea had sent Russia the blueprint and other data for its new “Chollima-1” missile used in the two previous failed launches. The information showed that Russia has returned its analysis of North Korean data, according to lawmaker Yoo Sang-bum, who attended the NIS briefing.
South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik told a separate parliamentary committee meeting on Thursday that Russia appears to be providing technological assistance for North Korea’s satellite program.
All three launches used the same satellite and rocket. The two previous attempts in May and August failed due to technical problems with the rocket.
There has been speculation that Russia is providing technological support for North Korea’s satellites and other programs since leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia to meet Putin and visit key technological and military sites in September. The Kim-Putin summit took place at Russia’s main space launch center.
Asked if Russia would help North Korea build and launch satellites, Putin told Russian state media at the time that “that’s why we came here.” “The (North Korean) leader shows a strong interest in missile technology. They are also trying to develop space,” Putin said.
The US, South Korea and Japan accuse North Korea of seeking to acquire high-tech Russian military technologies in exchange for supplying conventional weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Both Russia and North Korea have denied the alleged deal.
North Korea said its Malligyong-1 satellite will begin its official mission on December 1. However, he said the satellite had already transmitted images of military installations in the US territory of Guam and that Kim had seen them. North Korea has not released the images.
Many foreign experts are wary of the satellite’s ability to take high-resolution images and whether it has military significance. After recovering debris from the first failed launch attempt, the South Korean military said the satellite was not sophisticated enough to perform military reconnaissance.
Defense Minister Shin said he was concerned that Russia might help North Korea produce higher-resolution satellite photos.
Shin said authorities in South Korea, the US and Japan will be able to determine whether the satellite is operating normally as early as this weekend or early next week.
South Korea, the US and Japan have strongly condemned the satellite launch, saying North Korea is using it to improve its missile technology as well as acquire a space-based surveillance system.
UN Security Council resolutions ban all satellite launches by North Korea, viewing them as covert tests of long-range missile technology. North Korea says it has a sovereign right to launch spy satellites to counter what it calls US-led military threats. It says the spy satellites will allow it to better track the movements of its adversaries and enhance the precision-strike capability of its missiles.
In response to the satellite launch, South Korea said it was partially suspending a 2018 deal to reduce tensions with North Korea and would continue to fly surveillance aircraft and drones along its border.
North Korea’s defense ministry criticized South Korea’s decision on Thursday, saying it would deploy more powerful weapons on the border in a confrontational measure. He said he would no longer be bound by the 2018 accord and would reverse all steps he has taken to ease frontline military tensions under it.
South Korea’s military responded that it would “severely punish” North Korea if it acted provocatively.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea on Wednesday, but the launch likely failed. It was North Korea’s first known weapons launch in more than two months.
Kim has publicly promised to acquire spy satellites and other high-tech weapons systems. Since last year, North Korea has launched about 100 ballistic missiles in a bid to expand its nuclear arsenal. Experts say Kim ultimately wants to use his expanded arsenal to extract greater concessions from the United States if it resumes diplomacy.