North Korea possesses the capabilities to track and target satellites, posing a challenge to other militaries, the US Department of Defense said in a recent report.
According to the report published Monday by the US Defense Intelligence Agency, “Challenges to Security in Space,” North Korea is among countries that pose a challenge to militaries using space-enabled services.
“Iran and North Korea maintain independent space launch capabilities, which can serve as avenues for testing ballistic missile technologies,” the report said.
While North Korea would try to deny an adversary use of space during a conflict, it has demonstrated nonkinetic counterspace capabilities, including GPS and satellite communications jamming, according to the report.
“North Korea also has ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles that can reach orbit and could, in theory, be used to target satellites in a conflict,” the report said.
“Both (North Korea and Iran) will maintain their ability to conduct (electronic warfare) against adversaries and theoretically could use their missile and (space launch vehicle) advancements to target orbiting satellites.”
Pyongyang’s space program is operated by the National Aerospace Development Administration, a state-run civil body. North Korea placed two satellites in orbit in 2012 and 2016, using its Sohae Satellite Launching Station located on the west coast, and has associated space tracking facilities in Pyongyang.
An older space launch complex on the east coast has not been used for a launch since 2009, according to the DIA report.
As the major space challengers to the US, the DIA report indicated that China and Russia have made developments in counterspace capabilities to reduce US and allied military effectiveness.
“Both states (China and Russia) are developing jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities, and ground-based antisatellite missiles that can achieve a range of reversible to nonreversible effects.”
There are currently nine countries and one international organization that can independently launch spacecraft — China, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, the US and the European Space Agency.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibits placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on any celestial body. It also prohibits using celestial bodies for military bases, testing or maneuvers, the DIA report explained. The treaty has been ratified by 107 states, including the United States, China, North Korea and Russia.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com)