Kim Jong-un labels military spy satellite as ‘space guard’ in exercise of ‘right to self-defence’

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Branding his country’s launch of a military spy satellite as “deploying of a space guard”, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said it was an “exercise of the right to self-defence,” Yonhap News reported. Kim’s remark came during his visit to the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA), according to the official space agency of North Korea. “He highly appreciated that the eye-opening event of deploying the reconnaissance satellite constantly grasping the military intention and moves of the hostile forces with our space guard and the powerful sighting telescope is the precious victory,” Yonhap News reported, citing KCNA.

Emphasising that the ownership of a spy satellite constitutes a comprehensive exercise of the right to self-defence, Kim urged endeavours to realise both the immediate and long-term objectives of advancing aerospace reconnaissance capabilities, according to KCNA’s English-language dispatch Kim visited the facility with his daughter, believed to be named Ju-ae, and held a photo session with those involved in the satellite programme. North Korea’s latest satellite launch took place around 10.42 pm (local time) on Tuesday and the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite was placed in orbit about 12 minutes later, Kyodo reported, citing the official Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea’s defence chief Shin Won-sik said on Thursday that a partial suspension of a 2018 inter-Korean tension reduction deal is “a proportional response” and “a minimal defensive measure” against the North Korean regime following Pyongyang’s controversial satellite launch, Yonhap News reported. Shin’s comments came hours after North Korea’s defence ministry vowed to immediately restore all military measures halted under the Comprehensive Military Agreement and warned that the South must “pay dearly” for its decision.

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A 2018 accord that calls for setting a no-fly zone around the Military Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas, was suspended on Wednesday by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. “North Korea’s launch of what it calls a military spy satellite on November 21 is a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions and a serious provocation against the international community, once again showing it has no will to abide by the military agreement,” Shin said in a parliamentary session, according to Yonhap.

“Therefore, the partial suspension of the agreement is an essential measure to protect people’s lives and safety. It is a corresponding response to North Korea’s provocation and a minimal defensive measure,” he said. Shin stated South Korea will resume aerial surveillance operations near the border region an appropriate response to the growing threat posed by the North. “If North Korea stages provocations under the pretext of the suspension, we will respond immediately, strongly and until the end,” Shin said.

Shortly after the suspension of the motion, surveillance drones and reconnaissance aircraft were deployed near the border. North Korea supposedly fired an unspecified ballistic missile toward the East Sea on Wednesday night, but the launch appears to have failed, the South Korean military said, Yonhap News reported. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, currently docked at a naval base in the southeastern port city of Busan is expected to join naval drills between South Korea and the US, as well as trilateral drills involving Japan, scheduled over the weekend, Yonhap News reported.