The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday denied outside assessments that cast doubt on the development of its spy satellite and other military capabilities, calling them “malicious disparagement” and “barking dogs”.
North Korea earlier claimed Sunday’s missile launch was a test of its first military reconnaissance satellite, and on Monday state media released two low-resolution images of South Korean cities as seen from space.
Some civilian experts in South Korea and elsewhere said the images were too crude for surveillance purposes and that the launches were likely a cover for North Korean missile technology. The South Korean military confirmed that North Korea launched two medium-range ballistic missiles.
“Didn’t they think their evaluations were so inappropriate and careless because they commented on our satellite development ability and related preparations only with two photos we published in our newspaper,” said Kim Yo Jong, a senior official of the Workers’ Party, in a statement carried by state media.
It described the South Korean experts’ comments on the satellite imagery as “illogical”, “malicious pejorative” and “dog barking”.
Kim Yo Jong said that the experimental satellite that was launched carries a commercial camera because there is no reason to use an expensive, high-resolution camera for a one-time test. It said North Korea had used two outdated missiles as space launch vehicles – one for testing tracking and receiving signals, and the other for taking satellite images and other tests.
If we want to develop an ICBM, we just launch it. Kim Yo Jong said, “We are not using a satellite to conduct a convincing long-range missile test where South Korean puppets claim to influence public opinion.”
Kim, whose official position is deputy department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, is considered the most influential North Korean official after her brother, according to the South Korean spy service.
It mocked the South Korean military for assessing Sunday’s launches as medium-range missile launches and criticized South Korea’s Unification Ministry for condemning the satellite launch for violating UN Security Council resolutions banning North Korean ballistic missile launches.
Kim Yo Jong said that developing a spy satellite is a sovereign right directly related to North Korea’s national security. She said North Korea will fight international sanctions and strengthen its defense capabilities because its right to exist is threatened.
It also rejected the South Korean government’s assessment that North Korea still lacks key remaining technologies for an ICBM that could reach the US mainland — such as the ability to protect its warheads from the harsh conditions of atmospheric reentry.
Kim Yo Jong questioned how North Korea had obtained data from warheads until they landed on previous launches if the country really lacked re-entry technology.
“I think it’s best for them to stop talking nonsense, act with caution and think twice,” she said.
The spy satellite was among a slew of high-tech weapons systems that Kim Jong Un said last year North Korea needed to better deal with US-led military threats. Other weapons Kim wants to develop include multiple warheads, solid-fuel long-range missiles, underwater nuclear missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and hypersonic missiles.