North Korea claimed Wednesday to have successfully placed a spy satellite into orbit with its third launch attempt this year, demonstrating the nation’s determination to build a space-based surveillance system during protracted tensions with the United States.
The North’s claim could not immediately independently be confirmed. Observers doubt whether the satellite is advanced enough to perform military reconnaissance. But the launch still invited strong condemnation from the United States and its partners because the U.N. bans North Korea from conducting satellite launches, calling them covers for tests of missile technology.
The North’s space agency said that its new “Chollima-1” carrier rocket accurately placed the Malligyong-1 satellite into orbit on Tuesday night, about 12 minutes after liftoff from the country’s main launch center.
The National Aerospace Technology Administration called the launch a legitimate right of North Korea to bolster its self-defense capabilities. It said the spy satellite would help improve the North’s war preparedness in the face of “the enemies’ dangerous military moves.”
The agency said leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch at the scene and congratulated scientists and others involved.