North Korea announced on Sunday that it had conducted “another important test” towards the development of a reconnaissance satellite, Belga News Agency reports.
However, analysts warned that the “test” was in fact a ballistic missile launch just days before a presidential election on Wednesday in South Korea.
Pyongyang carried out seven weapons tests in January, including its most powerful missile since 2017, and last week it announced that it had launched what it said was a component of a reconnaissance satellite. South Korea said, however, that it was a ballistic missile.
North Korea is under strict international sanctions due to its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programmes, but the launching of peaceful satellites is not subject to the same level of restrictions, even though the rockets that transport them use much of the same technology.
The development of a military reconnaissance satellite – with hypersonic weapons tested in January - is one of the main defence projects announced last year by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Despite the international sanctions, Pyongyang has rejected all offers for dialogue since failed talks in 2019 between Kim Jong Un and then U.S. president Donald Trump.