South Korea retrieves North Korean spy satellite wreckage, ends salvage operation

Seoul, July 5 (BNA): South Korea has recovered the wreckage of a North Korean spy satellite and concluded it had “no military use,” Seoul’s military said Wednesday, ending a 36-day operation to rescue sunken debris from a failed North Korean space launch. Rocket launch in late May.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the military lifted key parts of the missile and satellite through a search and rescue operation in the Yellow Sea from May 31 through Wednesday, and worked alongside the United States to examine and analyze them. they.

“As a result of thorough analysis by South Korean and American experts, we have assessed that it has no military utility as a reconnaissance satellite,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a press release.

According to Yonhap, the military’s capacity assessment of the satellite debris prompted speculation that it may have recovered key camera components or other pieces of optical equipment installed in the satellite. Observers said that for it to function as a full-fledged spy satellite, one would have to have a camera with a resolution of less than a meter.

The allies’ joint analysis has drawn keen attention because it could shed light on progress in North Korea’s long-range missile development and space programs, as well as which nations have helped, knowingly or unintentionally, in its weapons development efforts.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff did not provide details of the findings from the Allied analysis of the debris and did not disclose any images of the recovered portion of the satellite.

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Last month, a Seoul official struck a note of caution, hinting that disclosing all the information the military obtained from the rescue operation would benefit the North Korean military.

After the missile fell into waters about 200 kilometers west of South Korea’s western island of Iochong on May 31, the military carried out a recovery operation involving navy ships, seaplanes and deep-sea divers for more than a month.

The operation was hampered by poor underwater visibility, fast currents, the heavy weight of the sunken wreck and other challenges.

But it lifted a presumed portion of the rocket’s second stage on June 15. The part that was lifted was about 12 meters long and 2 to 3 meters in diameter.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said: “Our military has demonstrated outstanding operational capabilities recovering multiple portions of the wreckage despite the unforgiving operating environment.”

North Korea claimed that the launch on May 31 involved the new Chollima-1 rocket carrying the satellite, Malligyong-1.

Shortly after the failed launch, North Korean state media acknowledged that the missile fell into the sea due to abnormal operation of the second stage engine.

Seoul and Washington have long viewed what North Korea claimed was a space rocket launch as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning any launch using ballistic missile technology.


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