North Korea says it will launch its first-ever military spy satellite to monitor U.S. drills

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 09: People watch a television show North Korea’s 75th anniversary of the founding of the armed forces day military parade released by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Seoul, South Korea.

Chung Sung-jun | Getty Images News | Getty Images

North Korea announced its plans to launch its first-ever military spy satellite – giving a lift for some South Korean and Japanese defense stocks.

North Korean military official Ri Pyong Chol said in a Monday statement that Pyongyang plans to launch a satellite with the aim to track “dangerous” actions by the U.S., pointing to its recent joint military drills taking with South Korea.

North Korea claimed the event “fully proves how the enemy is making preparations for the military act of aggression on the DPRK,” referring to its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Ri said the satellite — scheduled to be launched in June — will be “indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts of the U.S. and its vassal forces openly revealing their reckless ambition for aggression.”

“Under the present situation brought by the reckless military acts by the U.S. and South Korea, we steadily feel the need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons and have the timetables for carrying out their development plans,” he said.

Defense stocks rise

Shares of South Korean defense companies Firstec and Victek rose 3.8% and 3.3% respectively Tuesday afternoon, returning from a market holiday Monday. Korea Aerospace Industries also edged up 0.6%.

Japanese defense company Hosoya Pyro-Engineering gained 1.11%, while Mitsubishi Electric Corp inched up 0.16%.

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Japan’s defense ministry warned it will “take all possible measures” to destroy any North Korean missile that enters its territory – adding that Pyongyang’s repeated testing of its ballistic missiles pose a threat to the peace and security of the region and the international community.

ICBM test ahead?

Stephen Nagy, a professor at International Christian University, said the launch could be something else like an intercontinental ballistic missile test.

“North Korea will go ahead with the satellite launch, I think most analysts believe that it’s actually an ICBM – demonstrating increased capabilities of being able to attack U.S. bases in the Pacific but also on the mainland,” he said.

Nagy added that he sees the latest announcement from Pyongyang as a “signal” from North Korea to the U.S. to take the country more seriously and to return to the negotiating table – as the spotlight for Washington’s foreign policy remains on China and Taiwan.

“North Korea and its inability to move forward on some kind of compromise to move towards verifiable, irreversible denuclearization really puts the Biden administration in a position where if the North Koreans don’t move in terms of compromise, that they [U.S.] can continue and will continue to enhance their deterrence capabilities within the region,” he said.

“North Korea has been under heavy sanctions for years and it’s still engaged in provocative behavior and this leads to the question of, do we need a new strategy and who do we work with … I just don’t think there’s an easy solution as we move forward on this problem,” he said.

Taiwan is at the 'top of the agenda' for Biden's administration, says professor

“The Biden priority is of course China, then Russia, then ensuring the Indo-Pacific region is broadly peaceful and stable,” he said, adding that “Taiwan is at the top of the agenda because it’s such a critical part of its [U.S.] relations with China,” he said.

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