The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday accused the United States of “gangster-like” hypocrisy for criticizing her country’s failed launch of a military spy satellite and insisted that the North will follow with a successful launch soon.
Kim Yo Jong said North Korea’s efforts to acquire space-based reconnaissance capabilities were a legitimate exercise of its sovereign right and restated the country’s rejection of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban it from conducting any launch involving ballistic missile technology.
Her comments on state media came a day after a North Korean long-range rocket carrying its first developed spy satellite lost thrust after a stage separation and crashed in waters off the Korean Peninsula’s western coast.
After an unusually quick admission of failure, North Korea vowed to conduct a second launch soon after determining what went wrong as leader Kim Jong Un pushes to expand his military capabilities amid a prolonged freeze in diplomacy with the United States.
The North’s launch was swiftly criticized by Washington and its allies Seoul and Tokyo. Adam Hodge, a spokesperson at the U.S. National Security Council, said in a statement that Washington strongly condemns the North Korean launch because it used banned ballistic missile technology, raised tensions and risked destabilizing security in the region and beyond.
In her statement, Kim Yo Jong briefly mentioned Hodge’s comments before saying the United States “is letting loose a hackneyed gibberish prompted by its brigandish and abnormal thinking.”
“If the DPRK’s satellite launch should be particularly censured, the U.S. and all other countries, which have already launched thousands of satellites, should be denounced. This is nothing but sophism of self-contradiction,” she said, using the initials of North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
She noted how the United States closely monitors the North through its own reconnaissance satellites and other aerial assets, calling the Americans a “group of gangsters” who would deem it as “illegal and threatening” had North Korea attempted to send a satellite into space by balloon.
“The far-fetched logic that only the DPRK should not be allowed to do so according to the (U.N. Security Council’s) `resolution’ which bans the use of ballistic rocket technology irrespective of its purpose, though other countries are doing so, is clearly a gangster-like and wrong one of seriously violating the DPRK’s right to use space and illegally oppressing it,” she said.
“It is certain that the DPRK’s military reconnaissance satellite will be correctly put on space orbit in the near future and start its mission,” she added.
Citing what she described as U.S. hostility toward the North, Kim reiterated Pyongyang’s stance that it currently has no intent to re-engage in negotiations with Washington, which have stalemated since 2019 because of disagreements over crippling U.S.-led sanctions imposed over the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles program.
Wednesday’s launch extended a provocative run in North Korean military demonstrations, including the test-firings of around 100 missiles since the start of 2022 that underscored Kim Jong Un’s attempts to acquire dual ability to conduct nuclear strikes on both the U.S. mainland and South Korea to raise pressure on his rivals.
Wednesday’s failed launch raised security jitters in South Korea and Japan, where residents in some areas were briefly urged to take shelter shortly after the launch. South Korea’s military later salvaged an object presumed to be part of the North Korean rocket in waters 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of the southwestern island of Eocheongdo and plans to analyze the technology.
A military spy satellite is one of several high-tech weapons systems that Kim has publicly vowed to develop to bolster his nuclear deterrent in the face of U.S. sanctions and pressure. Other weapons on his wish list include a multi-warhead missile, a nuclear submarine, a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile and a hypersonic missile.
In his visit to the space agency last month, Kim emphasized the strategic significance of a spy satellite in North Korea’s standoff with the United States and South Korea, which have been expanding their combined military exercises to cope with the North’s evolving nuclear arsenal.
The U.N. Security Council imposed economic sanctions on North Korea over its previous satellite and ballistic missile launches, but it has failed to punish the North over its recent tests. The council’s permanent members China and Russia have continuously rejected U.S.-led efforts to toughen sanctions on Pyongyang, underscoring a divide deepened over Russia’s war on Ukraine.