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North Korea warns any US attack on its satellites will be declaration of war

A still photograph shows what appears to be North Korea's new Chollima-1 rocket being launched in Cholsan County, North Korea, May 31, 2023 in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea has warned the United States that any attack to disable its reconnaissance satellites will be a declaration of war, after a US space official hinted that Washington is capable of interrupting Pyongyang’s satellite operations.   

In a report on Saturday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), citing a statement from North Korea’s defense ministry spokesperson, warned Washington that in case such an attack against its strategic assets was imminent, Pyongyang would mobilize its war deterrence.

“In case the US tries to violate the legitimate territory of a sovereign state by weaponizing the latest technologies illegally and unjustly, the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) will consider taking responsive action measures for self-defense to undermine or destroy the viability of the US spy satellites,” the statement said.

The statement came just a day after Sheryll Klinkel, a strategic communicator at the US Space Command, told a media program in reference to North Korea’s spy satellite that “a variety of reversible and irreversible means” can be employed to “deny” an adversary’s space and counter-space capabilities.

“The US Space Force’s deplorable hostility toward the DPRK’s reconnaissance satellite can never be overlooked as it is just a challenge to the sovereignty of the DPRK, and more exactly, a declaration of war against it,” the KCNA stressed on Saturday.

On November 24, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited the Pyongyang General Control Center of the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA) and observed new photos taken by the country’s recently-launched military spy satellite.

According to a report by the KCNA on November 25, the photos of “major target regions” included those of the South Korean capital of Seoul, cities in the South, like Mokpo, Gunsan, Pyeongtaek, and Osan that host American military bases as the satellite passed over the Korean Peninsula the previous day.

The satellite also took images of some areas within North Korea and parts of Hawaii, the report further said at the time.

A North Korean international relations analyst said in a commentary published by KCNA later on Saturday that if sending satellites is considered a crime, “the United States, the world’s biggest satellite possessor,” should then face the United Nations Security Council.

“In case an unexpected clash happens in the Northeast Asian region around the Korean peninsula, the US, which has continuously put pressure on the security space of the DPRK by escalating military threat and blackmail, will be held wholly accountable for the catastrophic situation,” the commentary noted.

It also lashed out at Washington for holding joint military drills with Japan and South Korea, as well as for displaying the US’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Pyongyang launched a satellite last month, its third attempt this year after two failures, as South Korean officials claim that the latest launch purportedly involved Russian technical assistance.

The US has accused North Korea of supplying Russia with weapons to be used in its war against Ukraine in return for receiving technical assistance required for its ballistic and space programs.

Moscow and Pyongyang have strongly denied arms deals but have promised deeper cooperation, including on satellites.

In October, South Korea, the US, and Japan concluded a two-day joint maritime drills in waters near South Korea’s Jeju Island. Pyongyang views the military exercises as a rehearsal for invasion.

Pyongyang maintains that it will not tolerate persisting US-led war games in the area, underlining that it will continue responding to the joint military maneuvers by holding its own drills as well as developing and testing all sorts of weaponry, including missiles that could reach as far as the US mainland.

The North has been under harsh sanctions by the US and the United Nations Security Council for years over its deterrent nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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