SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s top officials have vowed to press ahead with a second attempt to launch a spy satellite, which they say was their country’s first, but failed, with the “most severe” malfunction this year and harsh criticism. reported on Monday.
In late May, a North Korean rocket carried a military spy satellite in a setback to leader Kim Jong Un’s push to acquire a space-based surveillance system to better monitor the United States and South Korea.
The failed launch and North Korea’s efforts to modernize its weapons were discussed in detail in the presence of Kim and other top officials at a three-day ruling party meeting that ended Sunday.
A lengthy Korean Central News Agency dispatch on the meeting did not say who spoke, but a statement from the meeting said it “sternly criticized officials for recklessly handling preparations for the satellite launch.”
The report tasked officials and scientists with learning the lessons of the failed launch, identifying the cause of the rocket crash and launching a successful launch in the shortest possible time, KCNA reported.
It did not say when North Korea would test a second missile. But South Korea’s spy agency earlier told lawmakers it could take “more than several weeks” for North Korea to determine what went wrong in the failed launch.
North Korea watchdogs have not reported any purges or firing of scientists or others involved in the failed launch.
A spy satellite is one of several high-tech military assets that Kim has publicly pledged to acquire to counter what he calls a US-led offensive. Other weapons systems Kim wants to possess include a multi-warhead missile, a nuclear submarine, a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile, and a hypersonic missile.
Since the start of 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 missile tests, some of which are related to the development of spy satellites and other powerful weapons on Kim’s wish list.
During the meeting, Politburo members analyzed the “greatly deteriorating security situation” in the region due to “irresponsible military moves” by North Korea’s rivals, the report said, an apparent reference to expanded US-South Korea military exercises.
The United States and South Korea have been expanding their military exercises in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear arsenal, and have warned that any attempt to use nuclear weapons could lead to the end of Kim’s government.
KCNA said Politburo members set unspecified “important tasks” to strengthen solidarity with countries “opposing America’s cruel strategy for global hegemony”.
North Korea has offered to strengthen ties with Russia, including defending its military operation in Ukraine. It says Russia is defending itself against the “hegemonic policy” of the West.
The North has also sought to build its ties with China, its main ally and economic lifeline, locked in an intense strategic competition with the US over trade, technology and regional influence.
UN Permanent members of the Security Council, Russia and China, have vetoes over North Korea’s missile tests at the UN. It has repeatedly blocked efforts by the US and other countries to tighten economic sanctions.
The party meeting discussed efforts to improve North Korea’s struggling economy, which experts say has been further strained by pandemic-related border closures.
KCNA said there had been some progress in efforts to increase agricultural production and revive production in the metal and chemical industries, although it acknowledged unspecified shortcomings. KCNA said there was progress in the construction sector, citing plans to build tens of thousands of new homes in the capital, Pyongyang.
One of the most secretive countries in the world, the North’s claims are impossible to verify. Experts say there are no signs of social unrest or famine in North Korea despite the hardships caused by the epidemic.
KCNA did not say whether Kim spoke during a plenary session of the Workers’ Party Central Committee.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Goo Pyeongsam said it was highly unusual for Kim to sit through such a high-profile party meeting without a public speech. Koo said the apparent lack of Kim’s speech may stem from the failed satellite launch and North Korea’s lack of economic achievements.