N. Korea in final stage of preparations for 3rd satellite launch: NIS

November 1, 2023

North Korea is believed to be in the final stage of preparations to carry out what would be its third satellite launch after two failed attempts earlier this year, South Korea’s spy agency was quoted as reporting to lawmakers.

After its second attempt failed in August, the North said it would try again in October. But no such launch has happened, and the North has given no word as to why the launch has been postponed and when it will take place.

“North Korea is believed to be in the middle of the final stages of preparations, such as carrying out checks on its engines and launch systems,” the National Intelligence Service (NIS) reported to the parliamentary intelligence committee during a closed-door audit session, according to Rep. Yoo Sang-bum of the ruling People Power Party.

The North appears to have received technological assistance from Russia and the possibility of success could be higher, the NIS also reported. Space technology assistance was widely believed to be one of the outcomes of a summit in September between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Still, the North lacks funds and technology and has not yet mastered the atmospheric re-entry and multi-warhead technologies necessary for an intercontinental ballistic missile, the agency reported.

The agency also shared intelligence of possible arms and technology trade between North Korea and Russia.

The NIS said that the North is believed to have provided Russia with more than 1 million artillery rounds and other weapons in about 10 shipments since early August in order to help Moscow with the war in Ukraine.

The amount of artillery rounds is enough for Russia to use for two months, it said.

The NIS also obtained intelligence that North Korea sent a delegate of multiple rocket launcher experts to Russia around mid-October, Yoo added.

Additionally, Yoo said that the agency was able to freeze US$3.45 million worth of virtual assets stolen by the North, in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in February and June.

With regard to the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group, the NIS reported that there have been signs that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered officials to come up with measures to provide comprehensive assistance to Palestine, according to Yoo.

“North Korea appears to be trying to take advantage of the Israel-Hamas war in multiple ways,” Yoo said.

Last week, the Voice of America (VOA) cited Israeli Ambassador to South Korea Akiva Tor as saying that Israeli authorities know that North Korean-made weapons are in use by Hamas.

The North’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Song, has dismissed the report as “groundless rumors,” accusing Washington of seeking to shift the blame for the war in the Middle East to a third country.

People watch news on North Korea's satelite launch aired on television, in this file photo taken Aug. 24, 2023. (Yonhap)
People watch news on North Korea’s satelite launch aired on television, in this file photo taken Aug. 24, 2023. (Yonhap)