As North Korea forges ahead with its nuke and missile programs, Kim Jong Un is also trying to boost Pyongyang's power in space, vowing to launch more satellites and saying efforts to kneecap the Hermit Kingdom's space program are "not tolerable."
North Korea announced the five-year space plan in its main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, on Monday, citing the regime’s goals of improving the economy and “livelihood” of North Korean residents, according to Yonhap News Agency.
"Some countries have manipulated U.N. sanctions resolutions against us and hindered the sovereign country's space development. It is not a tolerable act," the newspaper said. "It is a global trend that a country seeks the economic growth with the space program."
North Korea has made some strides in its space program since Kim Jong Un took power in 2011. North Korea successfully launched its first satellite in December 2012 after years of failures dating back to 1998. The satellite achieved stable orbit, but couldn't transmit data back to earth despite regime officials’ claims, Reuters reported. North Korea announced in February 2016 it launched a long-range rocket carrying a satellite. That launch occurred just weeks after conducting its fifth nuclear test.
Monday’s announcement could signal a possible long-range rocket launch, Yonhap News Agency reported. Satellite imagery also reportedly showed two new buildings near Sohae launching station in Dongchang-ri, northwest of Pyongyang. Some experts claimed North Korea was seeking to launch more satellites to test its ballistic missile technology.
North Korea launched an intermediate-range missile in early September that flew over Japan, just weeks after conducting its sixth nuclear weapon test on Sept. 3.
Kim has been described as a “micro-manager” who brought in new officials to identify problems in the country’s previously flagging nuclear and missile programs, Michael Madden, director of North Korea Leadership Watch, told Fox News. Kim Jong Sik, a rocket scientist, rose in the ranks by identifying key issues in the country's missile program.
“[Kim Jong Un] is aware of certain deficiencies and strength. He knows problems and knows ways to solve them by introducing people to help,” Madden said.
Part of Kim’s survival strategy is to complete his prized nuclear deterrent and to create better economic conditions in his country.