North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has announced his plans to launch more rockets into space, asserting that Pyongyang seeks to “conquer space” as part of a “fierce class struggle” against capitalism.
“Conquering space is… a fierce class struggle against the hostile forces seeking to usurp our peace and sovereignty,” Kim Jong-un told a meeting of scientists and researchers celebrating the launch of an alleged satellite into space earlier this month, according to the UK’s Sky News. Kim described space colonization on the part of the communist regime a “strategic goal” that his government would seek to achieve during his tenure. Kim thanked the scientists who worked on the satellite launch, describing them as “admirable heroes.”
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency adds that Kim Jong-un described the satellite launch as part of a greater “five-year plan for national space development” and notably called for North Korea to seek international cooperation in its development of technology in space. He did not mention any potential collaborators, though North Korea has very few allies. While China is its biggest domestic trade partner, its ideological allies are limited to nations like Cuba, which signed a scientific and technological intelligence sharing agreement with North Korea this year.
At an event last week to celebrate the rocket launch this month, Kim asserted that he would soon approve an increasing number of alleged “satellite” launches. The launches violate UN sanctions and many observers fear that the real objective of these launches is to test the rockets being used to shoot satellites into the atmosphere. These rockets can be weaponized if the satellite placed in them is replaced with explosives or nuclear material. That the “satellite” North Korea launched into space continues to tumble out of orbit and appears to be inoperable increases the concern that the satellite was a cover for testing the rocket.
Accordingly, a number of interested countries have taken action against North Korea. South Korean Ambassador to the UN Oh Joon is calling for the global community to take on “extraordinary measures” against Kim Jong-un, calling North Korea an “extraordinary threat” attempting “nuclear blackmail” on the world. South Korean President Park Geun-hye also delivered a speech this week demanding a stern respond to the “extreme reign of terror” operating in Pyongyang.
The United States has imposed more sanctions on North Korea. President Obama signed a Congressional bill into law Thursday that would “freeze the assets of anyone doing business related to North Korea’s nuclear or weapons programs or is involved in human rights abuses in the country,” according to CNN. Japan has done the same, passing into law this week a ban of North Korean ships entering Japanese ports and full travel ban for North Korean citizens to Japan.
American and South Korean troops also engaged in a military exercise this week that simulated an attack on South Korea that would necessitate the rapid arrival of American troops to Korea. The specifics of the simulation have not been made public, though it is believed it is a practice run to minimize damage in the event of a North Korean attack.
The United States announced Friday it would reject a call on the part of China for “peace treaty negotiations” with Pyongyang, though the State Department did not provide any specifics on the matter. “Denuclearization remains our top priority. We remain in close contact with the other five-party partners on our shared goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner,” State Department spokeswoman Katina Adams said in a statement.