SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday dismissed as “malicious disparaging” and “dog barking” the outside assessments that cast doubt on its developmental spy satellite and other military capabilities.
North Korea earlier claimed its rocket launches Sunday were tests of its first military reconnaissance satellite and on Monday its state media released two low-resolution photos of South Korean cities as viewed from space.
Some civilian experts in South Korea and elsewhere said the photos were too crude for a surveillance purpose and that the launches were likely a cover for North Korea’s missile technology. South Korea’s military maintained North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles.
“Didn’t they think their assessments are too inappropriate and careless as they commented on our satellite development capability and related preparations only with two photos that we’ve published in our newspaper” Kim Yo Jong, a senior Workers’ Party official, said in a statement carried in state media.
She called South Korean experts’ comments on the satellite photos “nonsensical,” “malicious disparaging” and “dog barking.”
Kim Yo Jong said the test satellite launched carried a commercial camera because there was no reason to use an expensive, high-resolution camera for a one-time test. She said North Korea used two outdated missiles as space launch vehicles — one for a test of tracking and receiving signals and the other for taking satellite photos and other tests.
“If we want to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, we just fire it. We don’t use a satellite to carry out a disguised test of a long-range missile test as South Korean puppets claim to sway public opinions,” Kim Yo Jong said.
Kim, whose official title is a vice department director at the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, is considered as the North’s most influential official after her brother, according to South Korea’s spy service.
She derided South Korea’s military for its assessment of Sunday’s launches as medium-range missile firings and lambasted South Korea’s Unification Ministry for condemning the satellite launch for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions banning any ballistic rocket liftoffs by North Korea.
Kim Yo Jong said developing a spy satellite is a sovereign right directly related to North Korea’s national security. She said North Korea will fight international sanctions and boost its defense capabilities because its right to exist is being threatened.
She also dismissed the South Korean government’s assessment that North Korea still is short key remaining technologies to have functioning ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland — such as the ability to protect its warheads from the harsh conditions of atmospheric reentry.
Kim Yo Jong questioned how North Korea could have received data from warheads until they landed in previous launches if the country truly lacked reentry technology.
“I think it’s better for them to stop talking nonsense, behave carefully and think twice,” she said.
A spy satellite was among a slew of high-tech weapons systems that Kim Jong Un said last year that North Korea needed to better deal with U.S.-led military threats. Other weapons Kim wants to develop are multi-warhead missiles, solid-fueled long-range missiles, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and hypersonic missiles.