North Korea promises more satellite launches, strengthens its military on the border

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North Korea promises more satellite launches, strengthens its military on the border

A rocket carrying a Malligyong-1 spy satellite is launched, as the North Korean government claims, in a location designated as North Gyeongsang province, North Korea, in this photo obtained by Reuters on November 21, 2023. KCNA via REUTERS/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

SEOUL, Nov 27 (Reuters) – North Korea warned on Monday it would continue to exercise its sovereign rights, including by launching satellites, while its troops were restoring some demolished guard posts on its border with the South Korea.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the launch of a reconnaissance satellite last week was motivated by the need to monitor the United States and its allies, state media KCNA reported.

“It is a legal and fair way to exercise one’s right to defend oneself and to thoroughly respond and accurately monitor serious military action by the United States and its supporters,” the KCNA report said.

Nuclear-armed North Korea launched the satellite on Tuesday, saying it had successfully entered orbit and was transmitting photographs, but South Korean defense officials and analysts said its capabilities had not been independently verified.

The launch prompted South Korea to suspend a key clause in a 2018 inter-Korean military deal and resume aerial surveillance near the border.

North Korea in turn declared that it was no longer bound by the agreement and would deploy weapons on the border with the South.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said North Korean soldiers were observed bringing heavy weapons into the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and setting up guard posts that the two countries demolished as part of the agreement.

South Korea estimates the North had about 160 guard posts along the DMZ and the South had 60. Each side demolished 11 after the military deal signed in 2018 aimed at defusing tensions and preventing accidental military clashes.

Armed North Korean soldiers have been seen restoring damaged guard posts in several locations since Friday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said, citing photographs taken by cameras in the demilitarized zone.

They were also installing what appeared to be a recoilless rifle – a portable anti-vehicle weapon or light artillery piece – on a fortification, he added, also citing a photograph.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the space agency’s control center in Pyongyang again Monday morning and viewed new satellite photos of the U.S. Anderson Air Force Base in Guam and other locations, including Rome , KCNA reported.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was briefed on the latest North Korean activities and ordered military preparation, his office said.

The United States called an unscheduled meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday to discuss the launch of a North Korean satellite.

On November 22, nine members of the Security Council joined the United States in a statement condemning the launch of a North Korean satellite using ballistic missile technology, calling it a violation of several Security Council resolutions.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the statement only showed how dysfunctional the Security Council had become, with some member states blindly following the United States in issuing meaningless statements.

Two of the veto-wielding permanent members, China and Russia, have refused to join any new Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang, despite continued testing of increasingly powerful ballistic missiles.

They did not join in the most recent statement last week.

Reporting by Hyunsu Yim, writing by Jack Kim, editing by Kim Coghill, Ed Davies and Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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