subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now
Picture: 123RF/COOKELMA
Picture: 123RF/COOKELMA

Seoul — North Korea is in the final stages of preparations for the launch of a spy satellite and the chances of its third attempt succeeding are high, South Korea's intelligence agency said in a briefing on Wednesday, according to a legislator present.

North Korea has also sent more than 10 shipments of munitions to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine, including more than 1-million artillery rounds, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) was quoted as saying.

That is roughly the supply of munitions Russia expends in its war with Ukraine in two months, a member of the parliament committee Yoo Sang-bum said, citing the briefing.

The NIS made the report in a closed-door parliament intelligence committee session.

The shipments were made by vessels moving between a North Korean east coast port and Russian ports, as the US previously reported, as well as by air out of North Korea, the spy agency said.

“North Korea is running its munition factories to full capacity to meet demand for military supplies to Russia and even mobilising residents and civilian factories to make ammunition boxes for exports,” Yoo told reporters, citing the NIS report.

North Korea’s two attempts to launch its first reconnaissance satellite this year ended in failure as stages of the boosters malfunctioned.

The launch is part of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s push to bolster its military capabilities that also include long-range ballistic missiles, ballistic missile submarines and hypersonic missiles.

North Korea appears to have received technical assistance from Russia and is likely checking the launch vehicle’s engine and launch mechanism, Yoo cited NIS as saying, but added that it did not provide further details due to security reasons.

The North had previously pledged to make a third attempt in October, but has so far shown no indication that it was about to go ahead with the launch.

Kim met Russian President Vladimir Putin in September in the Russian far east where he toured Russia’s modern space launch station, fuelling speculation that Moscow would help with his space programme in return for supply of conventional weapons.

While hosting Kim, Putin said Russia would help North Korea build satellites, without providing specifics.

Blinken visit

North Korea remains strapped for financial resources and technical expertise in its satellite programme, and appears to have not yet mastered the technology for atmosphere re-entry of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) warheads, Yoo said.

South Korea, Japan and the US have condemned the supply of arms and military equipment by North Korea to Russia, laying out what they said was evidence that confirmed deliveries of such shipments.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken will visit South Korea on November 8-9 and meet foreign minister Park Jin to discuss North Korean issues, South Korea said on Wednesday.

In return for arms support for Moscow, North Korea is trying to bring in Russian fighter jets and other aircraft, Yoo quoted NIS as saying.

North Korea has denied it was supplying arms to Russia and has also dismissed reports by some military experts that its arms were being used by Hamas militants in the fighting against Israel.

The spy agency also said that North Korea dispatched a delegation that mainly consists of experts on artillery to Russia in mid-October, Yoo said.

“North Korea is also seen to be trying to use the Israel-Hamas war in a multifaceted way,” Yoo said after the briefing. “Indications of Kim Jong-un’s order to look for ways to comprehensively support the Palestinians have been obtained,” he said.

North Korea and China are behind more than 80% of cyber attacks against South Korea, the agency also reported. The NIS and the FBI have frozen assets equivalent to $3.45m stolen by North Korea through hacking, it said.


subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.