North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his daughter Ju Ae, reviewed the North's first completed military reconnaissance satellite and "approved the future action plan" for its launch, state-run KCNA reported Wednesday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
May 17 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the secretive regime's first completed military reconnaissance satellite and "approved the future action plan" for its launch, state-run media reported Wednesday.
Kim visited an aerospace facility on Tuesday and examined the satellite, which is "ready for loading after undergoing the final general assembly check and space environment test," according to Korean Central News Agency.
He "approved the future action plan of the preparatory committee" for the satellite's launch, although a date was not specified.
The visit was Kim's first public appearance since a trip to the aerospace center a month ago in order to oversee the development of the spy satellite and give the go-ahead for its launch.
Images released by state media Wednesday showed Kim and his young daughter Ju Ae inspecting the site in white lab coats and caps and speaking with scientists near an object that appears to be a component of the satellite.
The North Korean leader called the successful launch of the satellite "an urgent requirement of the prevailing security environment of the country," KCNA reported.
Kim stressed the strategic importance of military reconnaissance as "the U.S. imperialists and [S]outh Korean puppet villains escalate their confrontational moves against the DPRK."
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
The North has condemned the expansion of joint military exercises by the allies as preparation for an invasion. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden adopted the Washington Declaration last month, an enhanced nuclear cooperation pact that will include greater information sharing and visits by U.S. nuclear submarines to South Korea.
Pyongyang has conducted weapons tests at a record pace since the beginning of 2022, including the launch last month of its first solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say could present new challenges for missile defense systems.
In December, Pyongyang conducted what it called a "final-stage test" of a satellite device that took low-resolution, black-and-white aerial photos of South Korea.
Commercial satellite imagery shows construction "progressing rapidly" at the North's Sohae Satellite Launching Station, according to an analysis published Tuesday on North Korea-focused website 38 North, as speculation grows that a launch could be imminent.
The imagery showed that "a probable new launch pad is being built at the coastal construction site," 38 North said.