North Korea Says Kim Saw Photos of US Bases From Spy Satellite

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(Bloomberg) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un viewed photos of US military facilities in Guam from a new spy satellite his state launched into orbit, and pledged to put more probes in the sky, the state’s official media claimed.

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Kim saw “aerospace photos of Anderson Air Force Base, Apra Harbor and other major military bases of the US forces taken in the sky above Guam in the Pacific,” the Korean Central News Agency reported a day after North Korea fired a rocket into space.

The US, Japan and South Korea, which have been closely watching the launch, have not confirmed if any satellite was deployed, let alone operational. Under the leadership of Kim Jong Il — the father of the current leader — North Korea had said it placed a satellite into orbit that was playing revolutionary songs, only to have Washington say the probe was likely at the bottom of the sea.

Kim Jong Un’s regime was quick to admit failure after two attempts this year to place a spy satellite in orbit ended with the rockets experiencing engine problems shortly after takeoff and falling into the sea.

The state’s propaganda apparatus heralded what it said was a successful launch on late Tuesday of its new “Malligyong-1” satellite, which it said would formally start its reconnaissance mission from Dec. 1 after some fine tuning.

Kim Jong Un said an array of spy satellites is needed to closely monitor and grasp the nature of military maneuvers of the “US imperialists and their vassal armies,” which are endangering the regional military situation, KCNA reported.

While officials in Seoul believe a North Korean spy satellite would be rudimentary at best, it could help Pyongyang refine its targeting as it rolls out new missiles designed to deliver nuclear strikes in South Korea and Japan, which host the bulk of America’s military personnel in the region.

North Korea’s first attempt this year to put a spy satellite in orbit took place on May 31 and the rocket failed a few minutes into flight when the second stage engine did not ignite. South Korea salvaged the rocket from international waters in the Yellow Sea, giving it a rare look at the technology North Korea has available for its rocket program.

Earlier this month, North Korea tested new engines for intermediate-range ballistic missiles in a move that could help Pyongyang deliver quick strikes on US bases in places such as Guam.

While the US removed its nuclear weapons from Japan and South Korea decades ago, it maintains what the Pentagon bills as America’s largest munitions depot in Guam. The tropical island is home to a US Air Force base with bombers capable of delivering nuclear strikes in places such as North Korea and further afield.

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