North Korea Plans to Launch Three Military Spy Satellites and Expand Nuclear Arsenal in 2024

SEOUL – North Korea has announced plans to launch three additional military spy satellites and increase its nuclear weapons production in 2024. This move is in response to perceived U.S. military threats, as stated by Pyongyang's state media on Sunday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un revealed these objectives at the conclusion of a five-day plenary meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea's Central Committee. The decision to launch more spy satellites follows the successful deployment of the Malligyong-1, North Korea's first military spy satellite, into orbit on November 21. This launch was successful after two failed attempts earlier in the year. There are speculations that North Korea might have received technical assistance from Russia for its satellite program in exchange for providing arms for Moscow's war in Ukraine.

Kim Jong-un emphasized the need to rapidly respond to a potential nuclear crisis and to use all available physical means, including nuclear force, to prepare for the control of the entire territory of South Korea. He also directed the Navy to enhance its military capabilities and develop advanced unmanned combat equipment, such as spy and attack drones, as well as electronic warfare capabilities.

Earlier this year, Kim Jong-un ordered an increase in the production of weapons-grade nuclear materials, aiming for an exponential growth in the country's nuclear arsenal. In 2021, North Korea outlined key defense projects, including the development of a nuclear-powered submarine, multiple nuclear warheads, and a military spy satellite.

In inter-Korean relations, Kim Jong-un declared that he no longer considers South Korea a counterpart for reconciliation and unification, labeling the South as a main enemy. This stance marks a departure from previous approaches, as he called for a "fundamental change" in dealing with South Korea, now viewed as a hostile nation.

The North's leader has vowed an "offensive and ultra-powerful" stance against the U.S. in 2024, condemning the U.S. military presence in the Korean Peninsula and joint military exercises with South Korea. He warned of critical action against the U.S. and South Korea with nuclear deterrence if they pursue military confrontations.

South Korea's unification ministry strongly condemned North Korea's plans to advance its nuclear and missile programs, warning of increased preparations for strategic weapons and weapons tests next year. Seoul's defense ministry also issued a stern warning, stating that the North Korean regime would face its end if it attempts to use nuclear weapons against South Korea.

North Korea's constitutional amendments in September to strengthen its nuclear force and the enactment of a new nuclear law last year, which authorizes preemptive nuclear strikes, further solidify its position as a nuclear state.

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