North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits satellite launch test site

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (KCNA-Yonhap). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

PYONGYANG, Mar 11, 2022, Business Standard. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited the country’s satellite test site on the west coast and called for its modernisation, Pyongyang’s state media said on Friday, Business Standard reported.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced his visit to the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, as Seoul and Washington jointly concluded Pyongyang’s recent purported “reconnaissance satellite” development tests were those of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.

Kim’s inspection came amid concerns that the North could engage in further provocative acts namely an ICBM test under the disguise of a satellite launch following its veiled threat in January to lift its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“He learned about and evaluated the present state of the ground, and advanced the task to modernise it on an expansion basis so that various rockets could be launched to carry multi-purpose satellites, including a military reconnaissance satellite, in the future,” the KCNA report said.

“He also set forth the task for building some facilities in the launching ground.”

To enable the launch of “large carrier rockets”, Kim also assigned tasks for reconstructing the “launching ground zone and the facilities for the general assembly and trial gearing of rocket and for the trial gearing of satellite”, according to KCNA.

These tasks also include “establishing extra facilities for the injection and supply of fuel and modernising parts of the launch control facility and major technical posts on an expansion basis”, it added.

South Korea and the US have concluded that the North’s “reconnaissance satellite” development tests on February 27 and March 5 were aimed at testing a new ICBM system ahead of a potential full-range ICBM launch.

Seoul’s Defence Ministry urged the North to immediately stop acts that escalate regional tensions, while “strongly” condemning the ballistic missile tests as a breach of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

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