North Korea received Russian aid for satellite launch -South Korea lawmakers

  • World
  • Thursday, 23 Nov 2023

A man watches a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea launching a military satellite, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea got help from Russia for its successful launch of a reconnaissance satellite this week, South Korean lawmakers said on Thursday, citing the country's intelligence agency.

Tuesday's launch was North Korea's third attempt after two failed tries, and the first since its leader Kim Jong Un's rare trip to Russia in September, during which President Vladimir Putin promised to help Pyongyang build satellites.

After talks between the leaders, North Korea sent data on launch vehicles used in two previous satellite launches, and Russia offered its analysis of the data, according to Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee.

"Regarding the success of the third launch, the National Intelligence Service assessed that there was assistance from Russia," Yoo told reporters, citing Putin's publicly stated pledge to help with the North's launch vehicle, and the exchange of data between Pyongyang and Moscow.

North Korea's state media said on Wednesday the country's leader viewed images taken above Guam of U.S. military installations, but Yoo said it was difficult to verify whether the satellite was capable of capturing such images.

South Korea's military has said parts of a rocket salvaged following the failed second launch in May showed that it had no meaningful use as a reconnaissance satellite.

"They were not in a situation to determine the satellite's capabilities unless North Korea releases a video showing that it took those pictures of Guam," Yoo said, citing the intelligence agency.

Youn Kun-young, another committee member, said that the launch was successful because the satellite entered orbit, and that North Korea could launch more satellites and conduct a nuclear test next year.

The latest launch triggered condemnation from the United States and other Western countries, while South Korea suspended part of a 2018 military pact with the North.

Russia and North Korea have denied arms transactions but have vowed to intensify military cooperation.

Moscow's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, on Wednesday denied illegal military dealings with North Korea, saying Russia was implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions."The accusations that have been brought against us ... are unsubstantiated and have no evidence whatsoever," Zakharova told a briefing.

The U.N. resolutions - passed with Russia's support - prohibit development of technology applicable to North Korea's ballistic missile programs and cooperation in areas such as nuclear science, technology, aerospace and aeronautical engineering.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Hyunsu Yim and Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Kim Coghill, Ed Davies and Gerry Doyle)

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