North Korea's weapons tests continue to cause international concern.
Pyongyang has conducted a "significant test" as part of the "final phase" of the development of a spy satellite which it plans to complete in April 2023, North Korean state media reported on Monday.
The army in Seoul (South Korea) had detected the launch of two medium-range ballistic missiles by Pyongyang the day before, the latest after a year marked by a record series of weapons tests.
Sunday's firings were "an important late-stage test for the development of a reconnaissance satellite", a spokesman for North Korea's National Aerospace Development Authority (NADA) said, according to the agency. KCNA State.
A step towards intercontinental ballistic missiles?
Experts believe that the development of such a satellite could serve as a cover for Pyongyang to test intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which largely share the same technology.
The test carried out on Sunday from the Sohae satellite launch base, in the Tongchang-ri area (north-west), was able to validate “important technical (elements)”, in particular the capture of images from space as well as as the processing and transmission of data by communication devices.
The state agency also reported that the craft carrying the "test" satellite - which included cameras, image transmitters and receivers, control systems and batteries - reached an altitude of 500 kilometers.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's Workers' Party, published two black-and-white photographs that appeared to show South Korea as seen from space.
Developing a reconnaissance satellite was among Pyongyang's key defense projects unveiled last year by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Earlier this year, North Korea conducted two launches, saying it had carried out tests on components of a reconnaissance satellite.
According to Washington and Seoul, these were likely parts of its new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile.
Washington and Seoul fear a 7th nuclear test
Pyongyang tested a "high-thrust solid-fuel engine" at the Sohae launch site last Thursday.
According to experts, solid-fuel missiles are more mobile and require less preparation time to launch.
All of North Korea's listed ICBMs, however, are liquid fueled.
Solid-fuel ICBMs that can be launched from land or from submarines were among the development goals unveiled in 2021 by Kim Jong Un.
The North Korean leader has stepped up his banned weapons programs since talks over his nuclear program broke down in 2019. The Pyongyang leader said in 2022 he wanted his country to have the most powerful nuclear force in the world, calling it September of "irreversible" the nuclear power status of the North.
Washington and Seoul have been warning for several months that North Korea could be preparing what would be its 7th nuclear test, the first in five years.
Pyongyang has been under multiple UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear and missile program since 2006.
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Kim Jong Un