How Kim’s meeting with Putin at Russian spaceport may hint at his space and weapons ambitions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Ending the world’s guessing game on when and where they will meet, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in a rocket launch facility in Siberia on Wednesday in their first meeting in four years.

Talks between the two estranged, nuclear-armed leaders are expected to focus on expanding military cooperation amid their growing tensions with the West.

The decision to meet at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a major satellite launch facility, could signal what Kim sees as critical next steps in his efforts to build a viable nuclear weapon that could threaten the United States and its allies. it is Asia.

Linking North Korea’s vast stockpiles of weapons that Putin may covet for his war in Ukraine, Kim in exchange could ask for much-needed economic aid and sophisticated weapons technologies to advance the nuclear program. its military, experts say.

Kim could push for Russian technology transfers on military satellites, a key asset on his weapons wish list that he has struggled to acquire. The group of military personnel selected by Kim for the trip also indicated that the North may seek technologies related to nuclear-capable missiles and submarines.

But it remains unclear perhaps Russia would be willing to share such sensitive technologies for what could easily end up being a limited amount of North Korean weapons slowly delivered through a small land link between the countries.

A look at Kim’s growing arsenal and areas where it could help Russia:

Spy satellite

Kim’s visit to Russia comes after North Korea experienced repeated failures in recent months to put its first military spy satellite into orbit. The country has vowed to make a third attempt for a spy satellite in October.

But there are questions over whether the newly developed satellite will be sophisticated enough to support its goals of monitoring US intelligence and South Korean military movements in real time and processing and transmitting high-resolution images.

After receiving and studying the wreckage following North Korea’s first launch failure in May, South Korea’s military decided that the equipment was not advanced enough to do military reconnaissance from space as the North said.

North Korean officials in Russia include Pak Thae Song, chairman of the country’s space science and technology committee that handles the spy satellite project, a possible indication that Kim is seeking to secure Russian assistance in developing such programs.

The spy satellites are among several major weapons systems Kim has publicly vowed to develop during a major political summit in 2021.

Kim has used the international confusion caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine to boost his weapons displays, test-firing more than 100 missiles since early 2022. with two short-range launches to the sea on Wednesday.

Kim has also demonstrated his test performance with an escalatory nuclear doctrine that authorizes his military to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against enemies if Pyongyang’s leadership is deemed to be under threat.

Space-based surveillance capabilities will increase the threat posed by Kim’s weapons.

While inspecting the North’s spy satellite at the country’s aerospace center in April, weeks before the first launch failed, Kim said the device would allow his troops to “use” pre-emptive military power when if the situation demands.”

After repeated failures, North Korea successfully put its first satellite into orbit in 2012, and a second one in 2016, but experts say there is no evidence that both satellites have transmitted images back to North Korea.

The UN Security Council has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea over its previous satellite launches, seeing them as covers for long-range ballistic missile tests.


Kim’s space goals are likely tied to his efforts to develop more powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles that are designed to reach the US mainland as space launch rockets share the same core technologies with those fights, experts say,

Some of North Korea’s ICBM tests in recent months the country said as tests of satellite launch and payload technologies were also seen as part of efforts to develop missiles that could deliver multiple warheads to different targets, improving their chances of avoiding missile defenses.

This year, North Korea tested its most advanced missile yet, a solid-propellant ICBM called the Hwasong-18, which demonstrated the potential range to reach deep into the US mainland.

North Korea’s ICBMs already use liquid fuel that must be added close to launch and cannot remain fueled for long periods of time. An ICBM with built-in powerful launchers would be easier to transport and store and could fire more quickly, reducing the chances for opponents to find and counter the…

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